Michael O. Bourne
Ellicott City Station, B & O Railway
Main Street & Maryland Avenue, Ellicott City, Howard County
The B & O Railroad Station at Ellicott City, formerly Ellicott's Mills, is a stone structure built of local granite which was given to the Railroad by the Ellicotts from one of their local quarries. The structure was a two-story building which parallels the Old Main Line of the B & O Railroad Company. Built in 1829-30, it was designed for use as a car house, produce house, and superintendent's office. The car house was at the southern end of the building which was equipped with large doors to accommodate the entrance into the building by locomotives and cars. There still exist track notches on the floor joist in this end of the building indicating that the trains were pulled into the upper level and that the floor was open, which permitted the underneath to be worked on from the lower level. In addition, in this section of the car house there still exists two large copper funnels in the overhead area of the upper level. The funnels, track notches, original opening in the ceiling area for the lift to operate in the produce room, and many other unusual features unique to this building still exist. In addition to the stone structure, a smaller brick structure was built in 1885 as a freight warehouse. Located between the stone station house and the brick freight building is the remains of a turntable. The turntable is built also of native granite and is 50' in diameter. Built in the early 1840s, when the trains were no longer pulled into the station house, the turntable accommodating the turning of engines for their return trip from Ellicott Mills to Baltimore. Archeological work has uncovered a number of the original timbers, supports, etc. The original floor area apparently was of cinder fill and was later improved with cobblestones. When the turntable area was filled in, in later years, much of it was permitted to remain.
Ellicott's Mills was the terminus of the first 13 miles of commercial railroading to be constructed in this country. It is believed that the stone station itself was engineered and designed to be part of the Oliver Viaduct which overpasses Frederick Road (the Old National Pike). The cornerstone for the Viaduct was laid on July 4, 1829 and it abuts the station. The exterior of the wall of the stone station ties into a stone retaining wall which parallels the Main Line track in a southerly direction toward Baltimore. The Railroad had planned to use Ellicott's Mills as a Depot and a portion of the first track laid was laid in Ellicott's Mills having been completed as early as 1828. The station was planned for use as the office of the Superintendent of Construction and it was from this office that a great deal of the construction for the first 13 miles was supervised and after completion this office was used for many years as the Superintendent's Office as the Railroad pressed westward. Public response to the railroad was tremendously successful and the trip from Baltimore to Ellicott's Mills become a must. Although the railroad had not anticipated passenger service, it suddenly found this to be an instant success and business flourished. During this period the Ellicott's Mills Railroad Station was the scene for arrival and departure of Presidents, political aspirants, foreign dignitaries, and just plain people interested in the thrill of a ride on the iron horse. This is the only station known to still be in existence which was designed to accommodate the servicing of engines in this manner. Its use as such was shortly to become impractical because of the rapid growth of the size of steam engines and it appears that early in the 1840s the doors were closed off and the building was no longer used in this manner.