xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Let’s get Baltimore’s place in railroad history exactly right, tout suite (and ‘Sweet Toot’)

The Domino Sugar Baltimore Refinery is donating the facility's 69-year-old yard locomotive known as "Sweet Toot" to the B&O Railroad Museum in West Baltimore.
The Domino Sugar Baltimore Refinery is donating the facility's 69-year-old yard locomotive known as "Sweet Toot" to the B&O Railroad Museum in West Baltimore. (Handout / HANDOUT)

The article covering Domino Sugar’s donation of its switch engine Sweet Toot to the B&O Railroad Museum claiming that it will pull excursion cars “on the first mile of track ever laid” perpetuates a misrepresentation of American railroad history (“Domino Sugar is donating ‘Sweet Toot,’ a small, old locomotive, to the B&O Railroad Museum," Oct. 21).

While serving as head of the Office of Railroad Policy at the Federal Railroad Administration, I was invited to speak at the reopening of the B&O Museum after its roof was severely damaged in a heavy snowfall. I began my talk with this: ”It is a privilege to speak at this event honoring America’s “Second Railroad." I then went on to explain that America’s first rail line went through my hometown — Milton, Mass. — years before the B&O line was begun. The Quincy Granite Railway was operating in 1826 before the B&O began to move in 1830. Moreover, the Granite Railway moved great blocks of granite used to build the Bunker Hill Monument over swampy marshlands to reach a river port. That was a far greater engineering challenge.

Advertisement

Since that talk, I have noticed that the B&O has changed its claim somewhat and now claims to be America’s first common carrier railroad and the museum’s advertising handout refers to providing rides over the “first mile of commercial railroad track in America.”

I fully appreciate the great place the B&O holds in American railroad history and in developing Baltimore’s important economic gateway status, but railroad historians are keen on keeping their facts and dates straight.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Charles H. White, Jr., Annapolis

The writer is a former port commissioner for the Port of Baltimore.

Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement