Chesapeake Beach Railroad Engine House, Seat Pleasant Maryland

Date added: November 28, 2022 Categories: Maryland Train Station

Otto Mears (developer of Colorado's Rio Grande Southern Railroad, among others), the Russian-born Colorado-based entrepreneur known as the "pathfinder of the San Juan" was the principal promoter of the Chesapeake Beach Railway. Mears had planned that his direct link to Chesapeake Bay would be a high speed line, 28 miles long, run by electric power from a third rail system. Notably, once the engine house was completed and steam locomotives were fully 1n service, Mears resigned as General Manager of the Chesapeake Beach Railway. David Moffat, the richest man in Colorado by 1900 (President, Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and president, Denver National Bank), was the major sponsor before 1902, when the engine house was completed. The work accomplished during the tenure of these men essentially remained intact for the whole course of the history of the railroad. Beginning when Washington had developed into an urban area and government employees were an identifiable holiday market for the railroad, the Chesapeake Beach Railway was planned as a passenger rail line to the Bay resort which Mears hoped would rival the renowned New England casino resorts. While occasional freight to and from the local agricultural area was carried at night, the passenger business to and from Chesapeake Beach was the focus of the railroad. The company ceased operation In 1935, the victim of a major economic depression.

By 1903, the yard located in rural Maryland near the District limits, in an area called Seat Pleasant after 1906, was occupied by the engine house, a turntable, sidings and storage tracks, a paint shop, and a water tank. Other secondary structures were added between 1903 and in 1936.

In 1936, after the property had passed into receivership, the Seat Pleasant Yard included the trackage, the turntable, the paint shop, the water tank, and the engine house, then listed as a round house. Also extant was a coal bin, a car shed, a sand house, an oil house, a motor car house, a storehouse, and an engine house. Presumably, the engine house related to a stationary steam engine which related either to a machine shop or to the pump which fed creek water to the watering standard.

The East Washington Railway Company, another Denver-based operation, purchased the yards in 1936 in order to set up a short line to transport materials to a local lumber company and coal to the Potomac Electric's Bennlng Power Station. Changes in function of both the engine (round) house and the ancillary buildings occurred soon after the transfer. Comparatively obsolete once the East Washington opted for diesel traction, the water tank was demolished sometime after 1966 and before 1968; the turntable was sold for scrap in 1971. Three interior tracks remained until after 1978. By the early 1980s no tracks and no outbuildings survived.

Building Description

The engine house was built in the configuration of a segmented fifth portion of a circle. Constructed of brick with walls 14-1/2" thick, it was a one-story structure which featured four repair bays, and presumably an endbay machine shop, all accessible from a sixty foot turntable.

A segmental "C" in plan, the engine house was a one story brick building built for the repair and maintenance of steam locomotives and later adapted for the maintenance of dlesel engines. The property was oriented in a north/south axis; the front access bays relate to the north wall.

Overall dimensions: east and west elevations, 76' 4"; north elevation 66' 1-1/2"; south elevation, 135' 1/2".