We arrived Wednesday evening and I immediately plotted out a research expedition to the western part of the Old Main Line that I would be modeling, namely the Sykesville area, about 35 minutes northwest. I figured that I could get away the next morning while the others did whatever they chose to do. But to my surprise, my wife and our hosts wanted to share in my excellent adventure.
"What exactly is this model railroading thing of which you speak," they queried.
There is a bit of an ad hoc collection of railroad memorabilia adjacent to the station including a former Pennsylvania Railroad signal tower, a C&O passenger car and this refurbished B&O caboose. It was unfortunately closed during our visit.
There was also this not-yet-refurbished-and-we-don't-know-if-it-ever-will-be caboose sitting on a former siding just west of the depot building. I assume that it was also closed.
We climbed to an area west of town tracing an abandoned spur to the nearby State Hospital. The sharp difference in elevation throughout Sykesville surprised me. Here the old tracks are visible in the foreground with the mainline below and the river just beyond.
The grade at which the spur climbed was very substantial. It was essentially only used by a 'dinky' pulling a single coal hopper every few days to provide for the hospital's power plant.
Part of modeling the OML in 1960 is to depict that which was no longer utilized by that time like this bridge abutment which is the only remains of the Henryton Road bridge over the Patapsco, just east of Sykesville.
I was assured throughout the day that my railfan mates were sincerely enjoying themselves and not just humoring me, even when I would channel my inner Cliff Clavin and recite interesting historical anecdotes and relatively useless facts and figures. So, all in all, it was a banner day. Several dozen photographs for later reference for me and a few minor purchases from quaint shops for the ladies.
We were home in time for final dinner prep, a great meal and a few drinks, plus some lousy bowl games and some even lousier New Year's Eve shows. We are all now well assured that we are no longer a preferred demographic target for any television network. Happy New Year everyone!
BONUS: JUST ONE MORE THING BEFORE WE GO ...
Big thanks to my backseat hosts, Jim and Carrie for this video and fine hospitality.