Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two stone arches for the price of one

Two alignments
Just east of Mt. Airy, Maryland, is Parrsville. This rarely visited section of the National Road was cut off by the construction of Interstate 70. Both of the roads shown in this picture are actually sections of the National Road. The one that looks almost like a driveway was for an at-grade crossing of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, which was replaced by a bridge, the road on the left, in the 1920s.

Grade crossing elimination
This photograph, taken in 1930 by the Maryland State Roads Commission, was taken from a similar angle to the one above. It shows the construction of the new alignment, on the left. Courtesy of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Central Library / State Library Resource Center, Baltimore, Maryland.

Old alignment
From the train tracks, looking west, the remains of the older alignment and a church are visible. It also seems to have become a dumping ground for trash.

Old bridge
From the same spot, looking to the northeast, the bridge that used to carry the National Road over the B&O can be seen. The guardrail on the right is for the westbound lanes of Interstate 70.

Stone culvert
I didn't think much of this old alignment until I looked over and saw this stone culvert. The construction of it is different from what I am used to seeing - the stones are longer, and the construction is more precise. To the right of this stone arch was a larger one, 20 feet wide, that, for some time, carried the B&O over the National Road.

Stone culvert
The other end of the culvert illustrates the nature of the construction a bit better. According to B&O RR Photo Tours, this culvert carried an old route of the B&O during the 1830s, before the route was changed. It's amazing that this stone structure has (mostly) held up for 170+ years with no maintenance whatsoever. The B&O really built things to last.

Stone culvert
From the point where I first photographed the B&O culvert, I noticed something else, on the old National Road alignment - another stone culvert! This photograph was taken from virtually the same position as the vertical one of the B&O culvert. It has held up reasonably well, though it wasn't always so covered with debris.

Stone culvert
The south side of the culvert hasn't fared as well.


Anonymous said...

I'm not loving my work today, and seeing juicy old alignments like this are not helping me want to focus on my job! ;-)

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

I'm sorry. I'll try to do more boring posts in the future.

Just be glad I haven't been able to sign the paperwork for the use of the State Roads Commission photographs - these include shots of the creation of the new alignment here - then you wouldn't be able to get any work done at all!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I should disable my feed reader now so my productivity doesn't plummet!