When the Train Came to Town
Journeys into Ellicott City
Ellicott City is home of the oldest remaining passenger train station in the United States, and one of the oldest in the world. It was built in 1830 as the terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line from Baltimore to the town then called Ellicott's Mills, and a facility to service steam locomotives at the end of the 13-mile (21 km) run. The station, a National Historic Landmark, is now used as a museum.
The railroad's inaugural trip from Baltimore to Ellicott's Mills has held on May 22, 1830, with horse-drawn rail cars. Regular passenger service began on May 24.
The B&O demonstrated its first locomotive, the Tom Thumb, at Ellicott's Mills in a famous race against a horse later in 1830. The railroad began using locomotives for passenger trains in 1832.
The station is the terminus of the original B&O railroad, which was intended to re-establish Baltimore as a major terminus of inland commerce after the opening of the Erie Canal. It was also meant to help the city compete against regional rival Washington, D.C., where construction was starting on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
From Ellicott's Mills the tracks reached Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in 1834, Cumberland, Maryland (the eventual terminus of the C&O Canal) by 1842, and Wheeling, West Virginia, on the Ohio River in 1852.
B&O passenger service from Baltimore to its Ellicott City station was discontinued in 1949, although freight service continued until 1972.
Image Credit: purehistory.org