B & O Railroad Museum, Baltimore

Take our word for it: the B & O Railroad Museum is one of the most interesting museums you will ever visit. The museum is located in the Mt. Clare neighborhood of Baltimore, where America’s railroad history began. It was at Mt. Clare that the first mile of long distance rail was laid. From there, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad would extend west to the first station stop at Ellicott’s Mills (itself now the site of a fine little railroad museum), and across the Appalachian Mountains, into the Ohio River Valley. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad built the first major railroad yard at Mt. Clare, including the spectacular Roundhouse, which now holds the heart of the museum’s collection, consisting of historic steam diesel, and electric locomotives, as well as rare 19th and 20th century passenger and freight equipment. The museum’s wonderful collection of artifactsB and O Railroad includes textiles, lanterns, dining car china, silver, as well as communication devices, signals, and shop equipment. Also on display are hundreds of models ranging from early patent and prototype models to modern commercial model railroad kits. The museum includes the Hays T. Watkins Research Library, whose holdings include B&O Railroad business records, manuscript collections, maps, mechanical and engineering drawings, trade catalogues, periodicals, microforms, paper ephemera, as well as video tapes and motion picture films. Plan to take your time here, folks. And if you’re a railroad buff, we have to warn you that your loved ones may have trouble tearing you away. For a great day (or better, two days) of railroad history immersion, combine a visit to the B&O Railroad Museum with a trip to the Ellicott City B&O Railroad Station Museum in the nearby suburb of Ellicott City. Also, be sure to consult our information on the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Location and Directions

Links B & O Railroad Museum

Cape Blanco Lighthouse, Oregon

The Cape Blanco Lighthouse is distinguished as the state’s oldest continuously operating lighthouse, the highest above sea level, and the westernmost of Oregon’s lighthouses. Completed in 1870, the lighthouse sits atop the precipitous, chalky cliffs of the same name (the Spanish explorer Martin d’Anguilar named this promontory in 1603). The height of the light atop the 59-foot conical tower combined with the cliff height give it a focal plane of 245 feet above mean sea level — its beacon can be seen from 22 miles out to sea. The lighthouse was automated in 1980, and today it is managed by The Bureau of Land Management. Visitors are welcome to tour the lighthouse, grounds, and tower. The visitor center museum has local history exhibits.

Location Information and Directions

Links: Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

The Mystic River in southeastern Connecticut has been the scene of shipbuilding since the 1600s, and more than 600 vessels are known to have been constructed there between 1784 and 1919. The town of Mystic became a prominent shipbuilding port after 1840, with almost 100 vessels launched from Mystic between then and 1880. Wooden shipbuilding in small communities like Mystic declined in the late nineteenth century, although local yards turned out a modest number of large coasting schooners, yachts, and small fishing vessels until 1920. In 1929, three Mystic residents established the Marine Historical Association to preserve the rapidly disappearing remnants of the town’s maritime past. Mystic Seaport is now an active living history museum with 17 acres of exhibits portraying coastal life in New England during the nineteenth century. Four major vessels lie at Mystic Seaport wharves and docks where they may be boarded by visitors. The highlight is the wooden whaleship “Charles W. Morgan,” which was built in 1841 and was active until 1921. Mystic Seaport also has a number of exhibit galleries which display a wide-ranging collection of art and artifacts, along with a schedule of changing exhibitions.

Location map and directions click here.

Links: Mystic Seaport Museum by the Sea