Step inside the historic B&O Railroad Roundhouse, originally built in 1884 to house the repair and maintenance shop for passenger cars, and uncover the first 100 years of the U.S. railroading experience. Known as the “Cathedral of Railroading”, the roundhouse collection contains the most extensive gathering of early American locomotives and rolling stock in the world, and the museum continues to operate the original 60’ turntable — check our events calendar for upcoming public demonstrations. Initially designed by the noted architect E. Francis Baldwin, the roundhouse incurred extensive damage during a snowstorm in 2003 when the western half of the roof collapsed, dropping tons of snow and slate onto the collection below. After a laborious 22-month process the structure was repaired and restored to its original 1844 design, while conforming to more modern structural safety requirements, and continues to house the B&O’s stunning collection of 19th century American railroad equipment. While the entire building showcases the dramatic evolution of railroading over these first hundred years, there are also multiple individual exhibitions inside the roundhouse, listed below.
The Underground Railroad: Freedom Seekers on the B&O Railroad examines the role of the physical railroad in the Underground Railroad network and gives an intimate look at the lives and journeys of 27 individuals who sought freedom from slavery along the B&O.
The Bank of America Model Train Gallery features an exquisitely detailed HO Scale model train layout of Baltimore City as well as an exhibit visually exploring the various North American model train scales (or gauges).
The historic B&O Roundhouse, built in 1884, features the most comprehensive collection of early American locomotives and rolling stock in the world. Known as the Cathedral of Railroading, this grand hall showcases some of the greatest locomotives of the first 100 years of railroading.
This section of the Roundhouse explores the very first locomotives, passenger cars, and freight cars used by America’s first railroad, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. These pieces were used in the Fair of the Iron Horse celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the B&O in 1927.
As a relatively new technology, the Civil War was the first war in the world to use trains. This exhibition in the Roundhouse displays how the B&O joined the Union war effort, featuring one of the only remaining locomotives to have seen combat in the Civil War, the Memnon.
The North Car Shop is the oldest surviving railroad manufacturing building in the world. Inside, explore a survey of 20th century locomotives and rail cars, from the last examples of steam to some the earliest historic diesels.
The Baltimore-based artists selected for this exhibit were asked to reflect on the concept of connectivity as it relates to the railroad, our community, and our own identities.
This hall features a variety of exquisite model trains from the Smithsonian’s collection covering almost 200 years of railroading history.
This car is preserved its Jim Crow era segregated design. Built for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, it served predominately in Southern states. Visitors can enter the car to view the different sections and learn about the perseverance of African American activists who worked to end segregated rail travel.
By the 1930s, mail was a primary cargo for the railroad industry. Visitors can explore the inside of a mail car and view a mail sorting area that acted like a mobile post office.
The B&O Railroad Museum’s site is the birthplace of American Railroad. This exhibition shares the story of the founding of the B&O Railroad in 1827.
During World War II, the railroads were responsible for moving soldiers and materials for the war effort, while at the same time continuing their passenger services. Explore how the government used railroads in the war effort by exploring the inside of this troop sleeper car.
The dynamometer car was an important part of measuring a locomotive’s performance in several categories, such as speed and tractive effort during a specific type of weather. Explore this fascinating meter on wheels and the accompanying crew quarters.
Don’t miss our train car sized HO scale model train layout. This moving exhibit depicts the early mission of the B&O Railroad – to reach out from Baltimore toward the Ohio River through the Appalachian Mountains.
The interior of this historic dining car boasts an impressive display of B&O Railroad dining china and silver, used to serve food on its premier routes. Learn how B&O staff and Pullman Porters provided a truly “fine dining” experience in their dining cars.
Enter our modern refrigerated car, once used to haul frozen McDonalds fries around the country, and explore the critical role railroads play in shipping American freight.
Railroads played a critical role in the standardization of time in this country, as well as the development and need for precise time keeping instruments. This gallery features clocks and pocket watches from the museum’s collection and explores the history of time and the railroads.