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US Navy steam railroads south of Washington, DC

December 06, 2017 10:33PM
Thank you to the powers that be for allowing me the use of the podium here.

My name is Chip Marshall and I have a strong interest in the navy railroads that were located south of Washington, DC (Indian Head Naval Propellant Factory [1898], Patuxent River NAS [1941], and Dahlgren Naval Proving Grounds [1925]). Originally, the systems at Indian Head and Dahlgren were captive railroads connected to the rest of the Navy by rail barge. Eventually, each base had a 20-45 mile connecting railroad to facilitate the movement of materials and supplies. Indian Head was unique because, until after World War Two, the entire system was electrified (steam engines and their cinders are not a good mix with the manufacture of gun powder). The steam engines that Indian Head did possess were small contractors 0-4-0T dinkies and switch engines (0-6-0 and 2-6-0). Their movement on the rather large base was restricted to specific areas and the connecting line. Another unique feature of Indian Head was the passenger service on the base allowing employees to get around without automobiles. Dahlgren offered passenger service along the connecting line between Fredericksburg, VA and the base. Two Edwards railcars and a combination passenger car were purchased new by the Navy to fulfill this need. The line to Patuxent River was a down on its luck short line purchased and extended to the site of the base. The Navy offered freight car service to several industries along the connecting line.

To the point, I'd like to get some information on the steam locomotives that worked on these bases. I have some anecdotal and limited pictures of the locomotives at Indian Head and Dahlgren. They appear to be a mix of whatever was available on the open market from contractor's and conventional rail lines. Patuxent River got two new US Army spec S160 2-8-0 for the road work and one Army spec S100 0-6-0T to work the industrial area of the base and make up trains. Sometime in the early 1950s, the steam power was replaced by two Baldwin S12 diesel switchers and one side rod Whitcomb switcher. I have nothing on where the steam locomotives went.

In the Navy scheme of things, railroad locomotives (and other railroad gear) is equipment no different than a dump truck or automobile. Getting rid of equipment was a bureaucratic process not involving much more than getting permission from command and placing a classified ad.

I would be interested in hearing if anyone has information on one of these three navy railroads, specifically the fate of the steam engines assigned to those bases. I can be reached through the forum and at bgmarshall@aol.com. Thank you for your time and patience.

Chip Marshall
Silver Spring, Maryland USA
Subject Author Posted

US Navy steam railroads south of Washington, DC

ChipMarshall December 06, 2017 10:33PM

Re: US Navy steam railroads south of Washington, DC

nedsn3 December 07, 2017 03:25PM



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