The historic depot is located in the heart of Olde Town at the corner of Summit and Diamond Avenues (5 South Summit Ave.). One of the series of B&O depots designed by the noted architect, Ephraim Francis Baldwin, a number of which still survive, the depot building and adjacent companion freight house were constructed in 1884 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. (The original plans are in the archives of the B&O Museum in Baltimore.) Today the depot serves as a central focus of Olde Towne and is a busy stop on MARC’s Brunswick Line.
Located on the former B&O Metropolitan Branch, now the CSX Metropolitan Subdivision, the depot sees the passage of a steady stream of CSX freights to and from the west, the morning and evening weekday MARC trains, and the twice-daily Amtrak Capitol Limited to and from Chicago. Summit Ave. is so named because it is located at the crest of the long climb up from the Potomac River at Point of Rocks. As a result, helpers occasionally appear on heavy coal trains.
A unique treat for visitors to the depot is the Java Junction coffee and sandwich shop located inside the station. Patrons can sit in the old waiting room (originally the depot had separate men’s and women’s waiting rooms) on original B&O benches while they dine or sip their coffee and wait for the next train, whose arrival will be signaled by the lowering of the crossing gates at Summit Ave. Java Junction is open M – F until 3:30 p.m. and Sat. until 3:00 p. m. (closed Sunday).
Adjacent to the depot is a History Park which contains a static display of a 1918 Buffalo Creek and Gauley 2-8-0 steam locomotive (freshly painted), a C & O bay window caboose, and a recently-arrived 1950’s era B&O RDC Budd car. A small community museum is located in the freight house, which is open Thursday – Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The depot is easily reached via either exit 10 or exit 11 from I270. From exit 10, turn left at the light at the end of the ramp onto West Diamond Ave.which leads directly to Summit Ave. From exit 11 east, go south on Route 355 for several miles, cross the railroad bridge, and turn left by the Catholic Church onto Summit Ave. There is ample parking at the depot and Gaithersburg City Hall plus there is a large parking garage nearby.
The opening of the Metropolitan Branch in 1873 marked the beginning of the transition of the region surrounding Gaithersburg from agriculture to suburban development. The B&O rerouted most trains from Baltimore to the west through Washington and over the new Metropolitan Branch, relegating the Old Main Line to secondary status. Numerous commuter trains traveled between Washington and Gaithersburg, which was the end of the line and the end of the original double tracking of the Metropolitan Branch. Remnants (very limited) of the wye where they used to turn around still exist. Historic photos can be found inside the depot and the community museum.
Other nearby points of interest include a brew pub directly across the street in the historic Belt building, a farmer’s market on Thursdays during the summer near the site of the former wye, and the picturesque village of Washington Grove which has its own MARC platform. Washington Grove was originally a summer camp run by the Methodist Church to escape the heat of Washington summers.
More information about the City of Gaithersburg and its history can be found at http://www.gaithersburgmd.gov.
All Photos by Gail Anderson.
Historic B&O Depot, Gaithersburg, MD
Coffee Shop, Gaithersburg MD Depot
Historic B&O Freight House, Gaithersburg, MD
B&O RDC Budd Car, History Park, Gaithersburg, MD
Trash Train Crossing Summit Ave., Gaithersburg
Special thanks to Hank Anderson for contributing to this page.