Monday, February 3, 2014

Bye-bye B&O CPLs at the Hyattsville (Md.) wye

They're coming down while-U-wait--those old B&O-era Color Position Light signals. CSX is going "mod" as they expand system capacity. In the D.C. area only a few CPLs remain, including those controlling the wye in Hyattsville, Maryland, and their days are numbered. I paid my last respects Friday, January 31, 2014.

The wye is at the north end of CSX's "Alexandria Extension" (highlighted below in yellow), tying the Extension into the Capital Subdivision. The Extension actually begins farther south near Benning Yard (not visible in this map). Near Lloyd Street, halfway between route 450 and MD295 is the south end of the new railroad overpass that carries the Extension above a tangle of industrial businesses in Bladensburg. [Click any image below to enlarge it.]

[Above] The west leg of the wye is almost completely blocked by "stuff" involved in new-signal construction. One such new signal is visible to the left, its head turned, awaiting its big moment.

[Above] Looking south along the west leg of the wye.

[Above] Looking south along the east leg. Note the grading to the left, where the east leg will be shoved over when the southern approach to the wye's apex is separated into two tracks.

[Above] Work in progress at the south apex preparing for a second single-track deck girder bridge across the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River. As mentioned above, the new bridge is to accommodate breaking apart the apex into two tracks, which will eventually run double-track all the down to the RF&P.

[Above] Presenting Q410, en route to Baltimore and beyond.

A view of the wye looking north. Note the pile of rocks behind the signal . . .

. . . because I'm now on top of it awaiting the next train.

 And here comes Q416. This is going to be an excellent shot!

Agh! I thought Q416 went to Baltimore, but alas, it's westbound--behind the construction junk!

Looking west along the Capital Sub, the west leg of the wye coming in from the left. A pair of wayside CPLs stand guard awaiting their replacements.

Looking east along the Capital Sub showing the back side of the same CPLs, with the wye's west leg off to the right. This signal location is called JD, recalling a tower once here.

Once upon a time Hyattsville had a genuine Frances Baldwin-designed B&O station here on the Capital Sub between the two legs of the wye. The old siding in the foreground was, remarkably, used by the Chesapeake Beach Railway, the trains of which came up the Alexandria Extension so passengers could connect with B&O trains. In the brambles between the trees is the concrete foundation of the depot. (See Harwood, "Impossible Challenge II, p. 157, for an excellent photograph.) In the distance the white object, I'm told, covered a stairwell leading to a tunnel for pedestrians that came up on the opposite side of the tracks.

The foundation of the old station is barely visible through the overgrowth.

This is the "white object" mentioned above that marked the stair to the tunnel under the railroad.

After shooting the wye area I drove south down Kenilworth Avenue to Lloyd Street for a look at the south end of the new (well, "new" a couple of years ago) railroad flyover across the industrial part of Bladensburg.

It was all I could do to get in, grab my shot through the car window, and get out without being run over by a dang truck! Note that this view borders Anacostia Park (left), bordered by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. Whew. Some pretty nice shots could have been gotten from the park, alas. Note also the rail laid down for construction of a second track. That concludes my report on this short visit; I hope you found it interesting. --John


  1. Hey..Another John Fuller who is a photographer. And also a train buff. Funny. Nice site.

    Rhode Island

  2. Enjoyed reading this.

    Where did the northbound trains of the B&O's Alexandria extension go once they reached Hyattsville?