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Martinsburg in Berkeley County, West Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Roundhouses and Shops / Railroad Strike of 1877
 
Roundhouses and Shops Face Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, June 16, 2007
1. Roundhouses and Shops Face
 
Inscription. Roundhouses and Shops. The B&O Railroad reached Martinsburg in 1842, and by 1849, a roundhouse and shops were built. These first buildings were burned by Confederate troops in 1862. The present west roundhouse and the two shops were built in 1866. The east roundhouse was built in 1872. These buildings represent one of the last remaining examples of American industrial railroad architecture still intact and in use. These structures serve as important reminders of the status of the railroad in the mid-19th century and the role it played in the economic development of Martinsburg, the county, and the state.

Railroad Strike of 1877. On July 16. 1877, workers of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad went on strike and closed this railroad yard to protest a cut in wages. Their action sparked the largest nationwide strike the country had seen. Extensive damage was done to company property at Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Wheeling, and over 50 workers were killed before the strike was crushed. Federal troops were used for the first time in a labor dispute. As the countryís first general strike, it focused national attention on labors grievances and made workers aware of the power of collective action.
 
Erected 1978 by West Virginia Department of Culture and History.
 
Railroad Strike of 1877 Face Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, June 16, 2007
2. Railroad Strike of 1877 Face
 

 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) marker series.
 
Location. 39° 27.492′ N, 77° 57.642′ W. Marker is in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in Berkeley County. Marker is on East Martin Street near White Avenue. Click for map. Marker is at the railroad station. Marker is in this post office area: Martinsburg WV 25401, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 9 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Berkeley Hotel (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Belle Boyd House (about 600 feet away); Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Shop Complex (about 600 feet away); Martinsburg Roundhouse (about 600 feet away); Baltimore and Ohio Roundhouse and Shop Complex (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Belle Boyd House (about 600 feet away); Avenue of Flags Monument (approx. 0.2 miles away); Civil War Martinsburg (approx. 0.2 miles away); Gen. Adam Stephen (approx. ľ mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Martinsburg.
 
More about this marker. Today Martinsburg is just a railroad stop. The roundhouses and shops are empty and the yard is gone. But the buildings are being refurbished and repurposed as an arts venue. A pedestrian overpass over the tracks will soon connect Martinsburg historic district with the shops.
 
West Roundhouse and Shops as Seen from the Station Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, June 16, 2007
3. West Roundhouse and Shops as Seen from the Station
 

 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. 1877 Strike marker in Baltimore, MD
 
Also see . . .
1. Martinsburg B&O Roundhouse History. (Submitted on June 19, 2007.)
2. B&O Railroad Strike of 1877. 1877 articles in the Martinsburg Statesman (Submitted on June 19, 2007.) 

3. East End: B&O's Neck of the Bottle. Harpers Ferry to Cumberland 1842 - 1992. (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
4. Baltimore and Ohio in West Virginia (Images of Rail). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
5. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (Railroad Color History). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
6. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (MBI Railroad Color History). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
7. Baltimore and Ohio's Capitol Limited and National Limited (Great Passenger Trains). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
8. Route of the National Limited (Baltimore and Ohio Passenger Service, Volume 1). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
9. Route of the Capitol Limited (Baltimore and Ohio Passenger Service, Volume 2). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
10. The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore and Ohio, the Nation's First Railroad 1828 - 1853. (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
11. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in the Potomac Valley (Golden Years of Railroading). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
12. Chessie System: Railroads in West Virginia. (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
13. Chessie System (MBI Railroad Color History). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
14. CSX (MBI Railroad Color History). (Submitted on May 5, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.)
 
Additional comments.
1. A Lot of Passenger Trains
Martinsburg was well connected to the rest of the country during the 75 or so years that railroads dominated transportation in the 19th and 20th century. Both the B&O Railroad and the Cumberland Valley Railroad, later the Pennsylvania, transported passengers to and from Martinsburg. The B&Oís main line from Washington to the west ran through Martinsburg. In the 1940s and early í50s twelve passenger trains stopped here in each direction, including The Capitol Limited, The Washingtonian, The Columbian, The National Limited, The Diplomat, The Shenandoah, The West Virginian, the Washington-Cleveland Night Express, and the Blue Ridge Limited. Thru first class and coach cars could be boarded to Washington, Baltimore, and New York eastbound, and westbound to Wheeling, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis. Today the Capitol Limited, now run by Amtrak, stops in Martinsburg every day on its way between Washington and Chicago. And a number of Marylandís Department of Transportation MARC commuter trains begin and end their runs here in Martinsburg.
 
Roundhouses and Shops / Railroad Strike of 1877 Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, April 11, 2011
4. Roundhouses and Shops / Railroad Strike of 1877 Marker
 
    — Submitted June 20, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.

2. Another Railroad Book
Hollis, Jeffrey R. and Charles S. Roberts (1992) East End B&O's "Neck of the Bottle:" Harpers Ferry to Cumberland (Barnard Roberts, Baltimore)
    — Submitted September 24, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.

3. Amtrak and Commuter Rail Passenger Service
All long-distance rail passenger service to Martinsburg came to an end when Amtrak was created on May 1, 1971. There was only one commuter train to Washington DC weekday mornings and one commuter train coming back to Martinsburg in the evening.

There is (or was) a provision in Amtrak's charter that required Amtrak to operate experimental service. Amtrak's attempt to comply with this provision resulted in a train named the "Potomac Turbo." This train went between Washington DC and Parkersburg WV. The train used turbotrain equipment built by United Aircraft (UA) for the New Haven Railroad passenger service between New Haven CT and Boston MA.

This service did not last long. The UA turbotrain required too much maintenance to be economical. The "Potomac Turbo" was soon replaced by a train called the "Potomac Special." The "Potomac Special"
 
1849 Baltimore and Ohio Stationhouse and Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, June 16, 2007
5. 1849 Baltimore and Ohio Stationhouse and Marker
The old train station is now home to the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitorís Bureau, the Arts Center, and the Washington Heritage Trail Interpretive Center. The new Amtrak station is attached, to the right. Martinsburg is the only antebellum station served by Amtrak. Amtrak's Capitol Limited (train 29 to Chicago and train 30 to Washington) stop here. Martinsburg is also served by MARC commuter trains on the Brunswick line.
 
used conventional equipment (an E-unit diesel electric locomotive and heritage cars) and went between Washington DC and Cumberland MD.

Additional changes came fairly quickly. The "Potomac Special" was replaced by a train with a shorter run. This was the "Blue Ridge," a train that ran between Washington DC and Martinsburg WV. The "Blue Ridge" had a P30CH diesel electric locomotive and Amfleet cars.

There was also a train called the "Shenandoah." The "Shenandoah" was an overnight train between Washington DC and Cincinatti OH. The "Shenandoah" used a P30CH diesel electric locomotive, too. The "Shenandoah" had a Heritage Sleeping Car, an Amcoach and an Amfleet food service car.

So, for a time Martinsburg was served by two Amtrak trains, the "Shenandoah" and the "Blue Ridge."

Neither train attracted enough passengers to last long. Amtrak was required to eliminate service whose cost recovery was too low.

One of the results of this cost cutting was to change the Washington DC section of the "Broadway Limited." The "Broadway Limited" had operated as a single train between Chicago IL and Harrisburg PA. The "Broadway Limited" was split into two parts at Harrisburg. Most of the cars went on to New York, NY. A few cars went to Washington DC.

Amtrak decided to create an entirely new train that would use a shorter route. The new train began
 
Pedestrian Bridge Connects Station to Shops Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, June 16, 2007
6. Pedestrian Bridge Connects Station to Shops
Remaining walls of the east roundhouse can be seen behind the tower under construction. The old stationís balconies can be seen beyond the lamp on the platform.
 
in Chicago and went through Pittsburg PA, Cumberland MD and Martinsburg WV before it arrived in Washington DC. This train was named the "Capitol Limited."

So this brings us up to date. Martinsburg sees one Amtrak train a day - the "Capitol Limited." This train has the numbers 29 (westbound) and 30 (eastbound).

Martinsburg also has several MARC commuter trains that operate Monday through Friday. There are two MARC trains that go into Washington DC in the morning. There are three MARC trains that operate to Martinsburg weekday afternoons.
    — Submitted September 24, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.
 
The Gaston Caperton Train Station, Martinsburg WV Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, June 16, 2007
7. The Gaston Caperton Train Station, Martinsburg WV
The new wing was added to the 1849 B&O Station when it was renovated in 1997. The old station is on the right.
 
 
Caperton Station Waiting Room Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, June 16, 2007
8. Caperton Station Waiting Room
Amtrak and MARC (Maryland Rail Commuter Service) passengers are served in this handsome waiting room.
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on June 19, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. This page has been viewed 4,617 times since then. This page was the Marker of the Week September 23, 2007. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 19, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   4. submitted on April 17, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on June 19, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.
 
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