Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Remember When . . . Horses Drove the Trains?

Camden Station in 1865
One of the interesting tidbits I've learned as I'm researching Circle of Spies (the official name of Culper Ring Series, Book 3!!!!) has to do with Baltimore and the trains.

Now, Baltimore was a fairly important railroading town, as one might be able to guess from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's name, LOL. There were several major lines running through the city. And yet, you wouldn't hear those locomotives if you were in the city during the Civil War era--oh no. They were considered noise pollution (not that that was the name for that at the time), and running a train through the city proper was against the law.

Kinda interesting, then, since the lines had to go straight through Baltimore to get to, say, Washington D.C. 

So there were two major stations. There was the President Street Station that came into Baltimore on one side of town, and the Camden Station on the opposite side, heading to D.C. In order to get to one from another, passengers either had to debark, take a coach through the city, and catch a different train, or else the cars had to be decoupled from the locomotive, hitched to horses one by one, and pulled through the town to the other station, where a new engine would be coupled up.

Inconvenient for travelers, to be sure, though I suppose the residents appreciated it, LOL. But what I find interesting is how many times this was used for nefarious purposes! This process was around what the first attempt to kidnap or kill Abraham Lincoln was based, when he was on his way to Washington for his Inauguration. And when the war was just heating up and Union soldiers were en route to D.C., Confederate sympathizers dumped sane, bricks, and other debris on the tracks between the two stations to prevent the cars from being pulled along by the horses. 

The fun little tidbits I just love learning. =)


  1. Wow. That's crazy! Who would have guessed. That's one thing I wish I could have seen--horses pulling train cars through town!