Watercolor… quite a few bridges have been built across the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers at Harpers Ferry over the years. Their histories and tenure influenced by “Mother Nature” and the Civil War. A covered bridge was erected in 1837 and the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad’s first was built in 1839. An 1842 combination railroad & turnpike bridge was rebuilt 9 times alone during the war years. Two rail bridges exist today, side by side over the Potomac sharing a common tunnel through the ragged edge of the Maryland Heights. The northern and most recent, a double track span, was built by the B&O in 1931 and is presently owned by the CSX Railroad (Cumberland Sub) with AMTRAK useage rights. The older Winchester Branch Bridge stands below it (now the CSX Shenandoah Sub), a Pratt truss and plate bridge, built in 1893 or ’94. Remnants of two earlier bridges lay further to the south… one set of old stone piers traversing the Potomac and another set crossing the Shenandoah. A fairly comprehensive history of the bridges and tunnel may be found on the National Park Service website here > Harpers Ferry Station.
… illustrated … This particular GM Electro Motive Division F7A locomotive was built as #722 for the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad (BLE) in 1952 and spent a hard service life hauling iron ore from Conneaut, Ohio to the steel mills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was never on the B&O roster. The 722 is presently owned by Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad (PESR) and operates wearing the Baltimore & Ohio’s classic, Otto Kuhler designed, blue & gray livery at the head of leisurely excursion trains, rambling along the south branch of the Potomac on current South Branch Valley Railroad (SBVR), ex B&O track. I had an opportunity to study the Potomac Eagle F7 in attendance during its participation in photo tableaus and run-bys at the “Streamliners at Spencer” event in 2014. Did the 722 ever pull through Harpers Ferry ? Of course not. But… I’ve visited this historic town and these bridges several times now… and this cab unit is the indicative power for many of the B&O passenger trains that did travel this route… and I wanted to paint it.
The Spencer Series