Location / Name:
Northern Baltimore City MD
the Baltimore Streetcar Museum - America's only downtown streetcar museum
GPS Coordinates: 39.312280, -76.620761
Address: 1901 Falls Rd, Baltimore MD 21211
Access by train/transit:
via bus line #27 at North Avenue, and a little walking,
via Light Rail at the Mt Royal or North Ave station, and a little walking,
from the Amtrak/MARC Penn Station (and light rail), also by walking.
(If you do walk, make sure you have a buddy with you, as the neighborhood is not the best - wouldn't suggest it for families tho)
The Baltimore Streetcar Museum became America's only downtown streetcar museum by chance, it wasn't originally planned that way. Back in the early 60's, a group of streetcar fans in a precursor to the BSM had planned for a museum site in Baltimore County, along the old right-of-way for the Northern Central's (PRR) Greenspring Branch at Lake Roland. They had put in some track and the framework for a carbarn.... until.... this mean ole nasty guy, Mr. Guntrum, living up on L'Hirondelle Club Road, got wind of it and had it squashed - he knew people in the Baltimore County government - I think he was a lawyer --- more below at the very bottom of the page.
So, in 1968, the BSM acquired the rights to some former Ma & Pa RR property along Falls Road in the city, just north of PRR's Penn Station. The city, for a sum of something like a dollar a year, gave the BSM a lease on the property for 99 years and built the museum their carbarn. The square pictures further down the page document some of the scenes at Lake Roland before and after the move to downtown.
In case you wonder where the number comes from on the motorman's and conductor's caps, the memberships in the museum are organized in this fashion: 1 thru 49 are original members from the precursor group - this section will never have any new members added to it; 50-99 are corporate memberships; and from 100 on up are the regular memberships where anyone can join. I joined in 1967 and have a membership number of 136.... they are way over 1000 today!
The streetcar collection used to be ALL Baltimore streetcars until maybe 10 years ago or so, when we acquired several PCC cars from SEPTA. They only cost $200, but it cost $2400 to get them moved down to Baltimore. Then we also acquired a NJT Newark PCC car. The BSM website, as of July 2015, does not contain a complete inventory of its equipment.
The workforce is ALL volunteer, and if you think you have some skill to contribute, please join -- us older folks are dying off quickly :-)
Cars run almost all year except for (starting in March 2015) January and February. Hours are in the afternoon 1pm till 5pm on Sundays, and they sometimes have special events and Saturdays.
The museum collection contains the last car to run in revenue service in Baltimore back in 1963, PCC car #7407. Another car was the last one to pull into the carbarn, but John Engleman was there, and had the operator pull back out of the carbarn onto the mainline, and then back into the carbarn so it could capture the title. :-)
Way back in the early days, the museum was running a contest to name the then new newsletter. Myself and Rob Catlin (#144 I believe) submitted the winning name, "The Live Wire", and it was announced in issue II-2 of the newsletter.
In comparison to some of the other streetcar museums in the country which have excellent presentations, the inside displays are pretty mundane. This stems from the fact that the museum also uses the space for meetings. I suggested years ago that they expand the second floor for the meeting room, add soundproofing, and make a kick-ass display area on the lower floor - and so it goes... oh well......
Thanks to John Engleman for his help with this page.
Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
The museum's website is here: http://www.baltimorestreetcar.org/
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! The Baltimore Streetcar Museum is one of the few museums that exists in a "downtown" setting, the only other one I'm aware of is the Minnesota Streetcar Museum in Minneapolis.
If you're "coming down" I-83, the JFX - Jones Falls Expressway from the north of Baltimore, such as the Towson area, or I-83 coming down from York or Harrisburg PA, take exit 6, North Avenue. At the end of the ramp, take a left onto North Ave, and go a few blocks till you can take a right onto Maryland Ave. You can take another right at either Trenton St (the yellow arrow) or Lafayette Ave (staying with the red). Trenton isn't always a good choice, for it is more of an alley than a street, and it might be clogged up. Either one ends at Falls Road, and you should take a right. Falls Road goes under both Howard St and North Ave.
If you're coming up from downtown (black line), Charles Street is probably the best bet. When you get to Lafeyette, hang a left, and join the red route.
From the west, you could come in via the Beltway, I-95, I-395, Conway St, and then Charles St, or, you could come in via Cooks Lane (off the end of I-70), Edmonston Ave, West Franklin, West Mulberry St, and when you hit Charles St, hang a left.
From the east side of Baltimore, streets like Pulaski
Hwy/Orleans St, Baltimore St, or Madison St will get you to Charles St.
If you are coming to the museum by way of public transportation, there are roughly 3 choices, listed at the top of the page. Be careful when you walk on North Ave and Charles St, they ARE NOT the best neighborhoods in the world - use common sense and make sure you have a buddy or two with you.
The two maps above are sections of my Baltimore Map 4, the complete guide for this area of Baltimore can be found here
Complete Inventory List
of BSM Assets: Past, Present & Parts
List compiled with the help of John Engleman
Descriptions in italics come from the BSM website.......
#25 Disclaimers: Every effort has
been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this
railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in,
especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.
Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these
locations. I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words",
and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the
railfan over a simple text description of the area. Since the main focus
of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the
signal fan being able to locate them. Since most of us railheads don't have just
trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites
of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other
significant historical or geographical feature. While some may feel they
shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more
interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to
realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the
1830's!!! Beware: ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as
possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.
Horse Car - Built 1859 by built by Poole & Hunt right up the road in Woodbury. Unrestored body incapable of being restored. Shell only.
St. Louis Car. Co. 1949 PCC. Originally built for Minneapolis/St. Paul. Sold to Newark, N.J. Stored outside at BSM. Vandalized and weather damaged. Plans are to get it running. Has problems unsolvable by BSM electricians - so far.
Horse Car - Built in 1865, it was a home built by Baltimore City Passenger Railway in 1875. Historical item kept by BTC (Baltimore Transit Company) for parades, etc. On hard rubber wheels. Planned to revert to steel wheels someday.
Car 129 was built around 1880 by the John Stephenson Company for the Baltimore City Passenger Railway Company. Weighing a mere 4,000 pounds, the car probably saw its last years of service, into the early 1900's, on the Harford Road line to Hall's Spring (near the present Argonne Drive and Harford Road). After the car was retired from service, the United Railways and Electric Company refurbished the car and used it for many parades along routes with streetcar tracks. In later years, the Baltimore Transit Company again rebuilt the car with rubber tires so that it could be used anywhere, still with horses. The car left the Baltimore area by the late 1940's but happily, it was returned to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum where it is still used occasionally for parades.
Brownell Car Co. double truck convertible car, built 1900. Operating but showing age badly. It was the very first car restored by the BSM in 1968.
Horse Car, to Cable Car trailer, to Electric Car. Built in 1884, it's a home built by Baltimore City Passenger Railway. (Supposedly) the oldest operating electric streetcar in the U.S. Restored and operating.
Newport News semi-convertible built 1918 by JG Brill as add on to Baltimore Red Rockets. Acquired by BSM in 1978. Nothing ever done. Hope to return car to a real museum in Hampton Roads Va. Negotiations underway.
Auto Car overhead lines truck. Built 1940s. Exact date unknown. Operable with work.
Brownell Car Co. single truck open car. Built 1894. Currently under restoration.
Car 554 is a 9 bench open car built by the Brownell Car Company in 1896 for the Baltimore Traction Company. This single truck car has flip over seats and pull down curtains.
Brownell Car Co. single truck "accelerator" car. Built 1896. Currently under restoration.
Car 1050 was built in May 1898 by the Brownell Car Company of St. Louis as part of an order of 73 cars to replace cars that burned in the Irvington carhouse fire of 29 May 1898. The cars were finished with cherry sashes and interior, red Wilton carpet seat covering, and a Tuscan Red/White exterior paint scheme. They originally were assigned to the Roland Avenue line, #10 (50 cars), and Gilmore Street, #1 (23 cars). By 1906, the cars in this order had been relegated to lighterlines. By 1911, they were the replacements for the older cars that had covered jerkwater (branchline) service. Fourteen cars were converted to one-man operation between 1916 and 1921 and served until January 1927. Another 27 cars from this order were equipped with air brakes, demotorized, and used as trailers starting in 1918. They were replaced by the 1921 Brill trailers and stored until 1926, and then scrapped. The remaining cars were withdrawn from service and scrapped piecemeal between 1920 and 1929. Several cars were converted to utility service, several were placed in playgrounds, and one was renumbered 2801 and assigned to the Safety Department, traveling the transit system displaying bulletins for the information of motormen. It was renumbered 3651 in 1925 and renovated for display at the 1929 Fair of the Electric Pony. It is presently being restored to its original number.
GMC TD4506 bus built in 1945. First GM diesel bus, serial number 001. Very historical piece of equipment. Was operable when acquired, now in outside storage deteriorating badly. Vandalized. Parts missing. No distinct plans except talk.
JG Brill double truck open car built 1902. Operating but showing age. It is the second car restored by the BSM.
Ford Transit Bus. Built in 1948. Never used by BTC. Sold to WMAR Channel 2 for mobile TV studio and transmitting station. Stored off property awaiting decisions. In poor shape.
GMC "Fishtank" diesel transit bus, built in 1963. These were the buses that replaced the streetcars. BSM acquired the bus from the Baltimore City Police Dept., which used it as the "Officer Friendly" bus. Being restored to as new condition by member Paul Sause and a few others. Off property.
GMC "Fishtank" diesel transit bus, also built in 1963. Parts bus for #1962. It was an MTA classroom bus previously. It will most likely be disposed of eventually. Off property.
Pullman-Standard trackless trolley. Built in 1940. Very historical piece of equipment. It is the ONLY Baltimore trackless trolley saved. BSM management seems to care less. Unloved by anyone capable of restoration. Shoehorned into carhouse, with planned banishment to open storage where it will rot.
St. Louis Car Co. 1948 Philadelphia PCC. Car sold for planned Lancaster streetcar line (which is now dead). Only electrical equipment still owned by BSM. Stored under cover in Pa.
St. Louis Car Co. 1948 Philadelphia PCC restored as SEPTA Gulf Oil era car. Operating.
St. Louis Car Co. 1948 Philadelphia PCC converted to overhead line car. Inoperable due to negligence. Disposition in question, BSM management wants to scrap it. Stored outside at BSM, being vandalized and damaged by the weather.
St. Louis Car Co. 1942 Philadelphia PCC. Body scrapped. Only electrical equipment, trucks, and floor still intact. Electrical equipment and trucks planned to go under 7303.
#2728 still at the Elmwood Depot in Philly
St. Louis Car Co. 1947 Philadelphia PCC. Car donated by Todd Sestero. See comment for 2160. Sold for money to a group in Lancaster, their project went no-where.
St. Louis Car Co. 1947 Philadelphia PCC. See comment for 2160 (2160, 2728, and 2799 were bought strictly to save them from the SEPTA scrappers. This succeeded as the cars are still intact for some future use. Their sale did help BSM immensely financially at a time when finances were very tight.
Single truck only from this car. No car.
Double truck crane hoist car. Built by Brill. Inoperable and needs much work. Acquired from Branford where it was running.
Closed car match for open car 1164. Restoration in planning stage. Movable under own power but not operating.
Single truck safety car. Built by JG Brill in 1904. Converted to air in 1924. Converted to a test car in 1940. Restored as 1924 version. In operation.
Same as 4533 but never converted. Inoperable, but awaiting eventual restoration.
JG Brill Railess Vehicle. Built in 1922. Box shell only. Stored off property. No firm plans.
JG Brill "Peter Witt" car. Built in 1930. Restored and operating.
Car 6119, seen at the museum's 28th street loop, is one of 150 "Baltimore" cars ordered by the United Railways and Electric Company These cars are called Peter Witt cars after the transit designer who promoted the front entrance, center exit car with a conductor's station located just forward of the center doors... This allowed fast loading of passengers during rush hours. Due to the Great Depression economies, all the Witts were converted to one-man cars. The total order of Baltimore Witts was 150, 100 from J.G. Brill and the balance from the Cincinatti Car Company. Car 6119 was built by Brill. Restored during the 1980's. This car design was used to collect data used in designing the PCC. Although designed as a two-man car, it served its entire life in Baltimore as a one-man car.
JG Brill trailer body (or what's left of it). Built in the 1910's. Body acquired years ago with an outside chance of restoring it. It had been abandoned the in weeds.
St. Louis Car Co. 1936 PCC. Built for San Diego. Then went to El Paso. Then to a real estate office in N.M. Purchased by the BSM through a donation for eventual conversion into a "replica" of BTC PCC 7303. Work is in progress. Much work has been done on it.
Pullman-Standard 1939 PCC. We only had the body, but it has been since scrapped and is gone.
Built by Pullman-Standard. 1941 PCC. Body only. Abandoned in place up in Hereford, Baltimore County. Plans were proposed around 2000 to recover the shell from Hereford, but no-one could agree on how to move it, or what to do with it once we got it.
Built by Pullman-Standard. 1944 PCC. Pride of the Museum fleet. Last streetcar to run in Baltimore. Saved from scrap by John Engleman.
Totally restored by Gov. Schaeffer and the MTA in 1990. The car is in operating condition.
7407 was built by the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company in 1944 for the Baltimore Transit Company. It was one of the last streetcars ordered for Baltimore until the MTA bought the new light rail cars. Since this car was built during the Second World War, the stanchions are painted instead of chrome coated. This car represented the height of streetcar development in the world when it was built and has the same general performance characteristics as the modern light rail cars. This car was rebuilt in the early 1990's and is painted in its original color scheme of cream, Alexandria blue, and orange. The original paint scheme of Baltimore's PCC cars was the result of a student competition circa 1936 at the Baltimore Institute of Art.
JG Brill double truck Philadelphia snow sweeper. Built 1917. Operating.
On the property but not owned by BSM:
Newark N.J. double truck snow sweeper. Ex-Toronto, ex-Rochester. Owned by a museum in New Jersey. BSM storing it. If that museum does not collect the car within 5 years from the date we started storing it, we get it. It is an almost duplicate of Baltimore's #3239 snow sweeper.
JG Brill double truck snow sweeper. Owned by Electric City Trolley Museum. BSM is also storing this one.
Pictures from 10/2/2016
Sign on the substation, dedicated to member #1, George F. Nixon
1164, 4533, and the sweeper at the visitors center
New trackwork at the carbarn and visitors center
Trackless Trolley #2078 squeezed into the carbarn
#554 being worked on in the carbarn
#4533 leaving the visitors center
Pictures from October 2008
These are my own pictures.....
I moved into Ruxton in 1967. Being an outdoorsy type person, I ravaged all over Lake Roland to see what it offered in the way of fun. Imagine my surprise when I came across the streetcars on the other side of the Lake. The first time I was there was on a Saturday, when I met John Engleman. He came back the next day with an application form, gave him my 17 bucks, and have been a member ever since... maybe not quite to the participation level they would like, but nevertheless...... (You will see John's name elsewhere on my two websites, as he is a fountain of knowledge on things I write about :-)
The original intention of the museum was to lay track along the right-of-way of the Northern Central's Green Spring Branch. At the time, track was still on the ground from the Green Spring Branch, having seen its last train in 1962. Track inside the park was sold to the National Capital Historical Museum of Transportation, and later given to the BSM. Several years after the cars were removed, the BSM brought in a scrapper to remove almost all but a few hundred feet of the track, near where the mainline ran (and the light rail is today). The track is still there today!
After much negotiation with the City, and having them build a carbarn for the BSM, moving day came in the summer of 1968. It's a shame, for the ride through the park, along the water, would have been most beautiful. We can blame a fellow by the name of Guntrum who lived further up L'Hirondelle Club Road (from where I lived) for the move, for he was politically well connected, and got the operation shut-down before it even got started. He was afraid the noise from the museum would bother him and his neighbors.
The pictures below are from just before the move, and one the weekend after.
I think they should go for building an extension of the museum up at the Lake.
The sub-station, dedicated to member #1, George F. Nixon.
A PCC car rides over one of the few elevated sections of streetcar trackage in Baltimore, near where the Ravens Stadium is today.
An underground cable car wheel from Paca Street on display at the M&Pa warehouse.
Streetcars on the Hanover Street bridge in south Baltimore.
Don't have a clue where, but it looks like two streetcar tracks offset from each other......
A 1902 USGS map of the area around where the streetcar museum is located now.
I used to own an 1845 rowhouse in Fells Point (at the dot), 7 S. Broadway, and it used to sit on one of the first streetcar lines in the city - wish I had some pictures from that era! :-)
This is a tour going north on Falls Road, starting on the east side of Maryland Ave, where you can see Penn Station from the backside.
Once on the west side of Maryland Avenue, at the very "bottom" of Falls Road, you have a fairly good vantage point to see Corridor trains, and the Light Rail going over I-83.
Next, we prepare to go under Howard Street and North Avenue. During the Ma & Pa days, there was a station here, accessible from North Avenue. You can see the BSM carbarn in the distance. Many of Baltimore's bridges over I-83 were brightly painted maybe 15 years ago or so like the Howard Street example here.
If you look over to your left just as you come out from underneath Howard Street, you can see where the Northeast Corridor heads into B&P Tunnel. During the summer it is difficult to get a good view through the brush.
Here we are between the North Avenue and Howard Street bridges.
Looking back towards where we just came from, under North Avenue.
Coming out from underneath North Avenue, we approach the south end of the carbarn.
The north end of the carbarn, with the visitors center on the left. The NJT (New Jersey Transit) car and sweeper stand watch over everything.
Another view from a little further north
A better view of the visitors center.
Looking north again from the front of the carbarn, we see the CSX (ex B&O) E-W mainline through Baltimore. When trains are overhead, streetcars do not run under the bridge.
From the other side of the B&O bridge, we can see the sub-station.
A few hundred feet up the track, we approach the ex Ma & Pa (Maryland & Pennsylvania) warehouse. The old cable car wheel has been a staple here for what, something like 40 years?
Here you can see the original markings on the side of the warehouse. The museum uses the warehouse for storage and maintenance, and has pretty much a full shop to do almost anything.
The northern end of the warehouse.
Looking south down the right-of-way, going towards the carbarn and visitors center.
Here is where the double track ends, just before we cross the driveway to the ex Ma & Pa roundhouse, where the city keeps salt for winter. We have talked to the city about taking over the roundhouse at some point, but so far, it hasn't happened.
The roundhouse is in relatively good condition considering the Ma & Pa moved out somewhere around 1964. Streetcars need to stop before crossing the driveway.
Looking south, we can just barely see the Ma & Pa warehouse.
Another shot looking south from the roundhouse.
Turning around and looking north again, we approach the north loop, which has two tracks. That is 28th and 29th Streets going over Falls Road.
The north loop.
The north loop again.
About another quarter mile or so north of the loop, at the Potts & Callahan construction storage yard, is where the Ma & Pa used to go into a tunnel to climb a small grade to get up into the Hampden area. The tunnel is still there, but the entrance is covered up on both ends, and no-one has seen it for years because of P&C.
Last Modified 09-Mar-2017
Disclaimers: Every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names. Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations. I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area. Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature. While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!! Beware: ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.