RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
 

Todd's Railfan Guide to
Sykesville MD
 

In General
Getting Here
Map
Sights
Fire and Police
Area Hobby Shops
More Maps and Aerials
Floobydust


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In General

For a small dot on the map, Sykesville actually has quite a lot of railroad "stuff".  Additional maps are at the bottom, showing successfully more detail. 

The ex-B&O depot is now Baldwin's Station restaurant.

B&P Tower, which used to be at the south end of the Penn Station in Baltimore now resides here, housing a small post office and visitors center.

Hobby Shops in the area are: The Moose Caboose and Pro Custom Hobbies.
        http://www.themoosecaboose.com/
        http://www.procustomhobbies.com/

There is a small siding with an old C&O coach and B&O caboose (C1909) sitting on it.  They are home to the Sykesville and Patapsco Railway, and model RR club that has several layouts in different scales on display.  They are usually open once a month, on the second weekend.  For more info, go to:
http://sprailway.org/spr/index.php?title=Main_Page

Numerous good photo spots, especially along River Road.... The crossing at route 97 isn't too bad either.

There are a few remnants of the Springfield Hospital Spur still around, notably the bridge over Main St.... Most of the branch at the hospital is now gone.

Open on Saturdays in good weather is the "Little Sykes" Railway, a 12 inch gauge passenger train the owner bought from a mall in Harrisburg PA.  Sorry ya'll, the ride is just for the kiddies, but it's still worthwhile swinging by if you're around there on a Saturday, I believe the hours are 9am-3pm.

Also located nearby is a fellow who bought one of the Zoo Trains from the Baltimore Zoo about 15 years ago.  Because of privacy issues, I haven't shown where he lives.

If you're hungry, I suggest either Becks or Baldwin's, but I favor Beck's because it's a little cheaper (I also go there every Tuesday for lunch with the guys from work).  The food is a notch up at Baldwin's, but as I mentioned, it's also a notch up on the money ladder... however, you can sit outside in the good weather, and be right next to the freights as they rumble thru!  Eldersburg offers just about everything else in the way of food (well, OK, they don't have any Fridays, Checkers, Papadeux's, or Schlotzsky's).

Don't forget to bring your wife or girlfriend along, as there are numerous antique and knick-knack stores here.

For a tour of the Old Main Line, visit: http://www.trainweb.org/oldmainline/omld8.htm

Sykesville has some info on the tower at: http://www.sykesville.net/Post.html

More tidbits of info at: http://www.purkeystoytrains.com/nearus.html

The aerial images are from www.bing.com/maps.

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

Getting Here

The easiest way to get here is to find your way to I-70 between Baltimore and Frederick MD, and take MD 32 (exit 80) north.  It's about a 4 mile trek off the interstate.

If coming down from the NW of Sykesville, you could also come down US 15 to Liberty Road, MD 26, and take that to Eldersburg, then head south on MD 32 into Sykesville.

 


Map


click here for the map in PDF format


Sights


    1       Mainline Visitor Center and Post Office, aka, B&P Junction Tower

B&P Tower served the Pennsylvania Railroad from 1910 to 1988, and was located at the south end of the Baltimore platform.  The tower was named after the junction with the Baltimore and Potomac RR.  When the tower was slated for demolition in 1995 to make room for the light rail, the town of Bowie MD stepped in and said they would take the tower for a park project they had in mind.  So the top of the tower was dismantled, and moved into storage in Bowie, unprotected from the elements (the bottom of the tower is still in place, so I'm not sure why it had to be demolished for the L/R).  When the park never happened, the town of Sykesville stepped up to the plate in 1999 and said they would take it.  So Sykesville built a new base, and put on top of it what was left of the original salvageable materials.

                
Views of B&P Tower, now the Old Main Line Visitor's Center.


B&P Tower and the block Purkey's was in.


    2       Baldwin's Station Restaurant / ex B&O Sykesville Depot

The Baltimore & Ohio RR built the Sykesville depot in 1883.  The station today is named after the architect, E. Francis Baldwin.  Supposedly, if you look at the chimney, it is patterned after the smoke stack of a period steam locomotive.  The B&O used the station up till the end of passenger service to Sykesville in 1949.

The station that preceded this one was built around 1828, and survived for 40 years until the flood of 1868 came thru and took with it the station and half of Sykesville.

                  
               
   
On the far right picture is their business cards.

                 
A set of WB train photos taken the first week of April 2010, while having lunch at Baldwin's.


    3       the Springfield Hospital Spur

The Springfield Branch went from the siding "down" in Sykesville "up to" the Springfield Hospital to deliver coal to the power plant.  The climb in Springfield is pretty steep, but by the early 1900's, engines were powerful enough to make the grade.  The spur was put in in 1908.  The hospital stopped using coal in 1972 when it converted to oil, and some of the spur is still evident today.

                       
The Springfield Branch bridge over main street, and tracks long unused.

 
Up on the "top" of the hill, the end of the branch, just after the access road into Northrop Grumman, and the split on the right.  All of this track was removed in the makeover.  In the right picture, the Westinghouse spur is facing me, and the Springfield branch continues on to the right.  Pix from 2004.

Steve covers the Springfield Branch in detail here

The aerial view below shows the end of the Springfield Branch at the power plant (the blue arrow), and the yellow arrows point at the right of way.


    4       the Westinghouse Branch

The building I currently work in, back in the 60's when this was a Westinghouse motor repair facility, had it's own siding coming into the property.  The siding was removed around 2008 when the physical resources people wanted to spruce up the property in conjunction with the county's effort to building a new intersection on MD32 and a new entrance in Springfield and the (now) Northrop Grumman property.  Pix from 2004.

The shot below shows the Springfield Branch (yellow arrows) where it passes the ex Westinghouse building, the green arrows point at the Westinghouse siding.


    5       the Little Sykes Train

           


    6       the Sykesville Siding


    7       the Baltimore Zoo Train

         
         
Chance B-20 Aerotrain, formerly at the Baltimore Zoo, in process of being restored.


    8       the Route 32 Aluminum Bridge

Built somewhere around 1963, the bridge had to be taken out of service around 2005 or so once a new bridge was completed.  Because the bridge was made from aluminum, but other structural parts were made from steel, galvanic action took it's toll, and the bridge had to be taken out of service.  It's one of the very few bridges in the country made of aluminum.

         


Fire and Police


the Sykesville Volunteer Fire Company

         
A few shots of the Sykesville Volunteer Fire Co.


the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Company

I would like to thank Kevin for a great tour of this new station house, which opened for business a year ago, April 2009.  The fire station is staffed by a combination of full time paid county firefighters, and volunteers, who make up about 75% of the staff.  There are at least two paid guys around all the time.  Downstairs there are about 20 bunk rooms, and with the snow we had here back in March, they were full... there are also 4 dorm rooms where a number of volunteer guys reside all the time.  In addition, there are plenty of rooms for meeting, exercise, watching TV, cooking, eating, etc.  This past winter, they also had a chance to check out the heated apron with the 3 feet of snow we got.  #32 will be replaced shortly with the arrival of a new engine.  All of their engines are manufactured by Pierce.

   

               

       


West Friendship VFC Open House - Sunday - 10/14/2012

I would like to thank everyone for their hospitality, it was a great open house.

 

   

       

       

 

 

   

       

             

 

     

  Training a new recruit! :-)

   

 

           

               
Howard County police helicopter, flown by both Howard County and Anne Arundel County police officers and flown in both counties.  I believe they fly out of Tipton Airport at Ft Meade.

     L to R under the helicopter- Spotlight, camera, and RF tracking antennas and the microwave downlink.

 

    Howard County sheriff and police cars are parked behind the fire hall.

 


the Sykesville Police (and town office building)

     


Area Hobby Shops


the Moose Caboose Hobby Shop

The Moose Caboose is located 2.3 miles west of MD 97, and is catty-corner from the Winfield Volunteer Fire Department.
The owner, Glen Stegmiller, has a large variety of trains and accessories for N, HO, Lionel, and G Gauge,
and will treat you like family when you visit.  He also has a good bit of models, parts, and accessories for RC cars!
2010 marks his 8th year in business.

   

           


Pro-Custom Hobbies

Pro Custom Hobbies has had a long hobbyist presence.  "Back in the old days", they used to advertise in magazines like Trains and Model Railroader and became the "go to" place for railroad scanners when they were located in Catonsville MD, a western suburb of Baltimore.  I'm not sure when they gave up the suburban address for a more rural location, but it might be back in the 2000 time frame or so.  Look for the signs in the right picture for the place to turn, it is easy to miss!

                   


Purkey's

The loss of Purkey's was a sad day in the model train business.  They had a well diversified stock, and if I was into Lionel size model trains, Purkey's would be the place I'd be hanging out at all the time.  He had it all.  It was located in two adjacent row-house style buildings on Main St, and was a wonderland of trains.  The owner, Wiley, has spent a lot of time into creating magnificent displays to run trains on... he is also the local expert historian, and has written many reviews and essays for local and web-based publications.  Unfortunately, as of early 2010, Purkey's has shut his doors, and the building is up for sale... it is a sad loss for all of us :-(

        


More Maps and Aerials


 


Overall shot of the "downtown" Sykesville area, MD Route 32 is on the right.


Floobydust



Looking up Main St.... Beck's is on the right with the green roof (Purkey's was behind me).

               
The grade crossing

   
The river is the county line

 
An interesting building left over from the early 1900's


 

NEW 08/23/2007
This page was last modified on: 01/29/2014