RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
POINT of ROCKS, MD
CENTRAL MD RAILFAN GUIDE HOME
RAILFAN GUIDES HOME
RAILROAD SIGNALS HOME
Point of Rocks is the division point between the B&O's Old Main Line, and the Main Line which heads to Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philadelphia via Washington DC
The focal point of Point of Rocks is of course, the ex B&O depot. The depot was built in the 1870's and is of ornate Gothic/Victorian design, designed by E. Francis Baldwin. It was added on to several years later. From 1876 through 1923, it used to be called Washington Junction. The station is not open for public access, as it is used by CSX for their MOW group. It was added to the Maryland Historic Register in 1973.
Most traffic is going to be through traffic between points west and either DC (and then Baltimore) via "the main line", or Baltimore via the Old Main Line.
Amtrak's WB #29 comes thru around 5pm, and the EB counterpart #30 rambles thru around 11:40am.
There are 19 MARC trains coming thru during the rush hour periods of roughly 5:10am - 7:50am for inbounds to DC, and 4:45pm to 8;50pm for outbounds, with an extra outbound at 2:55pm on Fridays. The complete schedules are on the Central Maryland page.
Weekdays can be very productive picture days between Brunswick, Harpers Ferry, and Point of Rocks, and between MARC, Amtrak, and CSX. If you have a trail bike, bring it along for getting to the overlook above Harpers Ferry. Visiting during the fall is especially rewarding with the magnificent colors we have here in Maryland!
For MARC and Amtrak schedules, and other guides of the area, please check out the Central MD Railfan Homepage... Amtrak, however, does not stop in Point of Rocks.
For a listing of Maryland depots,
check out Alan Brougham's page:
An interesting page with some history: http://www.american-rails.com/point-of-rocks-station.html
Wikipedia's page is at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_of_Rocks_(MARC_station)
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.
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.
If you are coming from the west or east via interstate 70, take US340/US15 south from Frederick MD, which is exit 53. When US15 and US340 split in about 5 miles, take US15 south.
Coming up from the south west, as in I81, I usually take exit 307 at Stevensville (you could also go up to exit 317 at Winchester, and take VA7 east to get to US340, but I found it usually takes a little longer than getting off at exit 307). My daughter used to go to school at Virginia Tech, and getting off here made the trip to Baltimore much quicker than going across 66 through DC, or up to Hagerstown to catch 70. At this exit are a bunch of good places to get gas and catch something to eat. Anyways, head east on VA277, which is Fairfax Pike. In about 4 miles, you will hit the traffic light junction of 277, US340, and US522 (take a left and you'll wind up at the East Broad Top! :-). Go straight through the intersection, and you are now on US340. Stay on this as you pass through the small towns of Boyce, Berryville, Rippon, and then bypass Charlestown. You may also be able to catch some Norfolk Southern action as you toot along, but in the 20 some years I've been using this route, I've never caught anything. In Berryville, there is a nice set of N&W CPL signals if you hang a right on Main St and go to the crossing. About ten years ago, they built a bypass around Charlestown, which makes the trip go a little quicker, but the downtown area has some nice shops in it if you have your wife or girlfriend with you. Just follow the signs for 340, and you can't go wrong. Where 340 and WV9 meet up with the 340 heading to Harpers Ferry, there is a standard cloverleaf interchange, just watch the signs. From there it's about 5 miles to Harpers Ferry, and another 7 to Brunswick. Coming into HF, you'll be going down a steep grade, and at the bottom, it curves off to the left, crossing the Shenandoah, and then follows the Potomac for a mile or so before crossing it into Maryland. After crossing the Potomac in the second of two long bridges, you'll go about a mile and a half before coming to the exit for Knoxville Rd MD464. Follow this through Brunswick, and then another 7 miles to Point of Rocks.
From DC, you have a couple of choices. You can head west from the DC Beltway on either VA7 or VA267, the Dulles Airport Access Road, which is a toll road, and head to Leesburg where you can pick up US15 heading to Point of Rocks.
If you're coming from the north side of DC, I would just head up I270 to Frederick, and then catch US340 south... while it may be a little longer, you don't have the stop signs, traffic lights, and slow moving idiots that plague the back roads.
To get to Brunswick and Harpers Ferry, head west on MD 464 off of US15, just "outside" of town.
Click here for the above map in PDF version.
Click here for the Central MD map in PDF version.
Click here for the maps of Harpers Ferry, Brunswick, Point of Rocks and central MD in one PDF.
1 The B&O Depot and MARC Station
Below are three great pictures from the collection of Tommy Warshaw, you can see the rest of his work at: http://www.easternrailfan.com/
Being a signal guy, I especially like the top photo showing two lamps lit on the upper head!
The wye at Point of Rocks is very well signaled, with most of the signals being easy to access. It's a shame they aren't still CPL signals :-(
1 WB signals on the Old Main Line approaching the wye.
2 EB signals on the NE side of the wye, heading out onto the Old Main Line towards Baltimore.
3 EB signal on the interchange track from WB mainline to EB Old Main Line.
4 EB signals, on the SE side of the wye, for trains heading into DC. The mainline is the double track, the single track is the interchange between the Old Main Line and the main. The pictures are taken from the north side of the wye.
5 EB signal on the south leg of the wye for traffic coming from the west (Brunswick). Signal is the one to the far right in the photo below.
6 WB signals on the SE leg of the wye. The right track can diverge off to the right onto the Old Main Line and head east, as can be seen up in 4. The left track can go through the crossover to the other track, and continue on westbound, or diverge to the Old Main Line. One of the two signals has it's back facing us in this shot, difficult access if at all.
7 WB signals on the west side of the wye.
8 WB signal for mainline traffic coming from DC, to be able to continue west.
9 EB signals heading into a crossover and the west side of the wye.