Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General



 Aberdeen MD     Havre de Grace MD       Perryville MD
These three towns are very close to each other, and therefore, grouped as such

In General

If you like Pennsy PL (Position Light) signals, and B&O CPL's (Color Position Light signals), this is one of the best places to come.  They are all over the place, and are offered in almost all of the varieties they come in... bridge, high, dwarf, pedestal, and dwarf mounted up on a pole.

The Perryville station offers the railfan a great place to watch and take pictures from.  And the staff doesn't seem to be bothered by railfans, in fact, they can become quite chatty at times.  If you come up here from Baltimore via MARC, you will also find the trains staff very friendly, and one of the engineers has a lot of stories to tell since he's been running trains since the early 70's.

The NE Corridor also squeezes down from four tracks to two in order to cross the Susquehanna River between Perryville and Havre de Grace.  Great shots of traffic over the bridge can be had from both shores of the river.

Pedestal signals populate the wye, making for good shots with these signals in them.... who knows how long they will last considering NS has been replacing the Pennsy PL signals with Darth Vader style color light signals all over the place.

Lots of railfans like coming here at night so they can watch the NS freights come off the Harrisburg line onto the Northeast Corridor.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted, once in a great while maybe MapQuest.  The screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

My RSUS philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! Contact info is here


Shades of the past!!  Michael Watnoski and I were in Perryville on a routine CPL and PL picture taking trip when this PRR E trip came rollin down the corridor... I was more into taking pictures of the passing trains while Michael was off taking pictures of the signals - when I yelled at him "Hey Mike, something different is coming".... what luck!



   1     Perryville MARC Station

The remodeled Perryville station - now used for MARC service.  It also houses a small model railroad museum.



    Amtrak signs at the MOW underpass at the station.

    A few hundred feet south of the station is another underpass.

  One leg of the wye going over Broad St.

  Picture of Amtrak's 40th Birthday train at Perryville on 4JUN2011, more pix here

   1a     Perry Tower

      Perry Tower

      The equipment cabinets used for the signals at this location.

   2     ex B&O "Jackson" Holly Tree

This Holly Tree was planted by the B&O in 1870.  It was first decorated for Christmas in 1947, and the B&O would make special stops here during the the Christmas season for travelers to enjoy the tree and the festivities surrounding it.  The tree was "deeded" over to Cecil County in 1972.  I believe the last train to stop here was an excursion train in 1984 or 1985.


   3     Amtrak (ex PRR) Susquehanna River Bridge

The original bridge was built here in 1866 by the PW&B.  The PRR built the current bridge in 1906-1906.  The bridge was electrified in 1934.
More info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amtrak_Susquehanna_River_Bridge
More info (an index) of the other bridges that cross the Susquehanna is at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crossings_of_the_Susquehanna_River

  Picture taken from the VA Hospital side of the bridge.

  Picture taken from the north / Roger's Tavern side of the bridge.

  Shot from the Rt 40 Susquehanna bridge.

The pictures below are detail shots of the bridge taken from the VA Hospital side.



   4     CSX (ex B&O) Susquehanna River Bridge, Bridge #34

The current bridge was built in 1908 by the Baltimore & Philadelphia RR, replacing a single track timber bridge.  However, a train derailment wiped out one span, and they had to detour trains over the "PRR" till 1910.  The new bridge was two tracks, but was subsequently reduced to a single track bridge. A little more info is at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perryville_Railroad_Bridge

           CSX crosses the Susquehanna on this bridge, catching something here requires a bit of patience. 

  Shot from the Rt 40 Susquehanna bridge.

   5     B&O Bridge #36a

Cute little stone bridge going over Cedar Corner Rd.


   6     B&O Perryville Branch, aka, Pennsy Interchange


Action From The Station Platform




            A MARC train crossing the mainline and entering the station siding.



This signal bridge sits about a mile north of the station, and is for southbound trains.



These dwarf PL's on a pole control traffic coming off the NEC, onto the Harrisburg branch, aka, the Port Road.



Two signals control movements from the Port Road onto the mainline (NEC).  A high signal controls what would normally be the SB main - the "right" track, and a dwarf handles the "left" track, normally reserved for trains heading in the opposite direction up to Harrisburg from the NEC.




   Looking up the Harrisburg line towards Harrisburg, the CSX interchange track goes off to the right, but doesn't get used anymore.


There are two signals here at location 4, a pole mounted dwarf PL (on a short pole) which controls the Harrisburg line onto the NB corridor, and pedestal signal 4N, which controls access from the station siding onto the corridor.  The pictures on the bottom row are looking from the Harrisburg branch towards these two signals and back up the branch across the bridge over Broad St.





There are also a couple of pedestal signals at location 5... the signal in the upper set controls the station siding into the SB main, and is used every time a MARC train leaves for Baltimore.  In the last photo on the right, the excursion train just passed.  The pedestal on the bottom row controls the Harrisburg line onto the SB main, and two pictures of the two of them are on the right.  Detail pix of the rear on the bottom row.





Across from the station is Perry Tower and this signal bridge with a single signal for southbound trains.  Just before the bridge, where the mainline has gone down to two tracks, is another signal bridge, which can be seen in the left photo.



Out on the bridge, for northbound traffic, is a signal bridge controlling the tracks going from 2 tracks back into 4. 

The first two pictures are taken from underneath the signals on VA Hospital property.  The remainder were taken from the outside deck of the Tidewater Grill, on the Havre de Grace side, which has fairly good food, BTW.... if you want to take a relaxing break and still be able to watch the trains, this is the place.  Prices are reasonable, in the $15-$25 range for most dishes for dinner... lunches are cheaper.




LED "Tri-Light" Signals.  These signals have been using LEDs for maybe 6 -7 years, and I first noticed them on a MARC ride to Perryville.  Just south of here, there is another set of LED "tri-light" signals for NB traffic in the next set, controlling the squeeze from 4 to 2 tracks.  Please Note: Professional signal maintainers DO NOT use the term "tri-light", they call them colorlights or by the model, such as type "G".





This is the second of two locations around here that uses LED's for lighting the signals.  A little further up north in Wilmington DE, they have several signal heads with LED's in them, and a couple of the pedestals mounted overhead on a signal bridge have a couple of the lamp positions using lunar LED's.  The only other place I have seen LED's in use is in Houston TX at Pierce Junction.




In Havre de Grace, at Havre de Grace, the CSX crosses at Ontario Road.  CSX started putting the colorlight signals in about two years ago, but as of late August 2009, still had not cut over to them.  Coming down off the hill where the crossing is, you have a pretty good view of the NEC bridge over the Susquehanna.


The pictures below were taken in June 2011.


  CPL's all gone :-(



West Aiken on the B&O (CSX) is on the north shore of the Susquehanna River.  There is only one track on the bridge going over the river, so West Aiken is where they placed a siding to hold south (or more correctly, westbound) freights, as seen in this set of pictures.  A dwarf CPL protects the siding, as is customary with B&O practice, with a high signal for the mainline in both directions.  Also can be seen here is the approach lighting the B&O used, as the signals go dark once the train has left the adjacent blocks.  The picture of the high signal on the top row also shows why both the Pennsy and B&O decided to use multiple lights for their signal heads - one of the two red lamps for the stop signal is out, but it still leaves the engineer with one lamp to see the signal.  If a marker lamp goes out, the signal is automatically downgraded according to the rules.  What a mess of wires coming out of the junction box, eh?




The first signals on the Port Road, north of the wye at Perryville, are at Minnick.  These signals are still in the PRR yellow state, altho, who knows for how long.  Get your pictures while you can.  Another good place for pure Pennsy PL pictures is the main line between Harrisburg and Altoona, at least around Mt Union and the East Broad Top.  These signals are for NB traffic, or heading to Harrisburg.  In the last picture of the set, you can see the SB signals I didn't have a chance to go after.




Our third CSX signal location, Johnson, is conveniently located at Jackson Station Rd, which is the other end of the siding which starts/ends at Aiken.

Above, the SB signal.

Above, the NB signal.

      Relay cabinets.

          The grade crossing at Jackson Station Rd.

  When you see this building on the right of Rt 40, coming up from the south, it's time to make a left.


This comes from the University of Texas library website at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/maryland/
It is from the Havre de Grace quadrangle from 1899.


Around Perryville

The railroad overpass adjacent to the station, going over Broad St.

Roger's Tavern, on the north side of the PRR bridge.

Historical marker next to the Tavern.

Quite rare, if you're into these kinds of things, a pole number tag from the old, old days of the Conowingo Power Company, just off Rt40 on Aiken.

On The Havre de Grace Side

The lighthouse in HdG, and looking off the deck at the Tidewater Grill towards the junction of the Chesapeake Bay and the Susquehanna.

This is the Route 40 bridge over the Susquehanna, currently under repair in 2009.


New 03/01/2008
Last Modified: 02/26/2014