Prince George's County
Celebrates 300 years of history 1696-1996
Tricentennial train tickets . .
You won't want to miss these excursions. The first trips are planned for Sunday, September 29 departing from the MARC train station at Bowie State University at 10:30 a.m. and 2:15 p.m., and traveling to Waldorf and back. All round trips will be three hours. And take advantage of the Old Bowie Antique and Craft Street Festival taking place throughout the day and catch the free shuttle to the train station. The second trips are planned for Sunday, October 27 departing from the Prince George's County Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro at 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and running to Chalk Point on the Patuxent River in southern Maryland. The activity planned in conjunction with this ride will be Greenberg's Great Train, Dollhouse & Toy Show at the Prince George's County Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro. Free shuttle service from the Arena to the train stop will be available. All trips are being done in cooperation with MARC train, AMTRAK and Conrail and we greatly appreciate their work on this project. Prices for tickets are $15.00 for adults; $10.00 for children. To purchase tickets, call Ticketmaster at (202) 432-SEAT; tickets will be sold beginning August 16 on a first-come, first-served basis.
The development of the railroad lines in Prince George's County, as in any other area, was shaped by the events of their time. Before the invention of the automobile, and even decades after, trains were used to transport freight and people where they needed to go Ñ the driving force behind where rails were laid. In the 1830's the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was the first in Prince George's County. In the 1850's a movement began to develop another railroad in the county. Planters from southeast Prince George's and Charles counties needed a way of transporting their produce, mainly tobacco, to the market in volume. This led to the development of the second railroad through Prince George's County. The movement to construct this line was principally led by members of the prominent Bowie family. In 1853 a charter was secured from the Maryland General Assembly for the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad to be built from Baltimore, the principal market town, to Pope's Creek on the Potomac River. Fundraising for this new railroad was difficult and slow, and it was not until 1859 that a right-of-way for the line was surveyed. In 1860, officers of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad approached directors of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for financial support, but its directors saw no potential for profit in such rural undeveloped area, and declined to purchase stock. Lack of construction funding combined with the upheaval of the Civil War brought the plans for the Baltimore and Potomac line to a halt. Eventually, due to a legal restriction placed upon the number of miles a rail could run, the Pennsylvania Railroad took advantage of the opportunity and took over financing and construction of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad. Construction began in 1868 on the 73-mile line from Baltimore to Pope's Creek. At the junction of the Pope's Creek line and the Washington Branch, a station was established; it was named for Oden Bowie, one of the principal forces behind the Baltimore and Potomac, its first president, and by 1869, the newly-elected Governor of Maryland. Three hundred acres of land were bought up around the junction and platted as a new community. Originally called Huntington City, the town soon took the name of the station, and is today known as Bowie. The first trains ran on the Washington branch on July 2, 1872. Eventually this branch became the main line into Washington.
Along its line such communities as Glenn Dale, Seabrook, Lanham and Landover grew up. Many more towns like Hyattsville, Takoma Park, Riverdale, Charlton Heights (now Berwyn Heights), College Park, Mount Ranier, Colmar Manor, Cottage City, Brentwood, North Brentwood, Fairmont Heights, Capitol Heights, Seat Pleasant and Lincoln developed along the other rail line in the county. These late 19th and early 20th century railroad communities still survive, and fine examples of Victorian dwellings can be found in many of these communities.
The first trains ran on the Pope's Creek line on January 1, 1873.
This line ran through agricultural areas and became an important artery of commerce, education and entertainment
for the farmers of southern Prince George's County. The Pope's Creek line
did not spur the growth of any major towns, although post offices and general stores sprang up at stops
like Collington, Mullikin, Hall, Leeland, Croome Station, Linden, Cheltenham and
Brandywine. Only Brandywine developed into anything like a railroad town. Today the
Pope's Creek line is used exclusively to carry fuel to the power plants
in southern Maryland. The Baltimore and Potomac lines now carry Amtrak passengers on their way up
and down the east coast.
Local Points of Interest . . .