Pope’s Creek Subdivision

The Pope’s Creek Subdivision is a CSX Transportationrailroad line in Maryland, running from Bowie to Morgantown where the Morgantown Generating Station is located and the Chalk Point Generating Station.[1]

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Bowie Junction, where the Pope’s Creek Subdivision (left) meets the Northeast Corridor (right). The Bowie interlocking tower, no longer operational, has been restored and is part of the Huntington Railroad Museum.

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The Pope’s Creek Subdivision was originally built by the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad. The company was organized on December 19, 1858, and began surveying the route May 3, 1859.[2] Construction started in 1861 but progressed slowly until 1867, when the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) and its ally, the Northern Central Railway (NCRY), bought the company.[3] The PRR at the time had access to Baltimore via its own lines: the NCRY from the north and the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad from the northeast. However, it used the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and its Washington Branch to continue southwest to Washington, D.C. The PRR and B&O were rivals, and the Maryland General Assembly refused to grant a charter to end the B&O’s monopoly on Baltimore-Washington travel. However, the existing Baltimore and Potomac charter allowed exactly that, via the clause that allowed branches; all the PRR had to do was to take the line within 20 miles (32 km) of Washington. The PRR obtained a charter for the section in Washington on February 5, 1867.[4]:335

Thus the new Baltimore-Washington line opened on July 2, 1872, and the required “main line” to Pope’s Creek on the Potomac River, immediately relegated to branch status, opened on January 1, 1873.[4]:339[5]:46

Passenger service from Bowie to Pope’s Creek ended on October 29, 1949.[6]

Ownership of the line passed from the PRR to the Penn Central Transportation Company in 1968 and to Conrail in 1976. When Conrail was split in 1999, CSX Transportation was assigned the line.

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