CSX CEO to Chair B&O Museum Drive

CSX President and CEO Joe Hinrichs will lead the $30 million capital campaign to transform the campus of the B&O Railroad Museum. Courtesy Image. 

CSX CEO to Chair B&O Museum Drive

By Eric Berger

CSX President and CEO Joe Hinrichs will lead the $30 million capital campaign to transform the campus of the B&O Railroad Museum as it prepares for the 2027 bicentennial celebration of American railroading, the railroad announced recently.

The November 14 announcement follows up a previous commitment by the railroad to kick off the campaign with $5 million to build a CSX Bicentennial Garden, an amphitheater and multi-use space that can host community gatherings.

“Joe is a visionary who understands the importance of preserving our past, while supporting the economic health of today’s communities, and preparing our children for the future of American railroading technology – this project does it all,” said B&O Railroad Museum Executive Director Kris Hoellen.

While the B&O museum was not formally established until 1953, it began exhibiting some of its historic cars and locomotive much earlier, most notably at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago and B&O’s elaborate 1927 centennial celebration, the two-week Fair of the Iron Horse in Halethorpe, Md., where many historic pieces remained until a 1935 hurricane devastated the site. A B&O publicist named Lawrence Sagle became an important figure in railroad preservation history when he arranged to transfer the historic equipment to an unused Baltimore roundhouse, narrowly averting plans to scrap it all. Sagle rescued the collection yet again when he learned of plans to demolish the Bailey Wye roundhouse in 1953, arranging its transfer to the circular roundhouse at the Mt. Clare shops which would become the museum site.

Thanks to Sagle’s persistence, the B&O Transportation Museum formally opened on July 2, 1953, with great fanfare by railroad officials and local politicians and Sagle as its first curator.  It would remain under direct railroad management until becoming an independent non-profit in 1990. It gained affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution in 1999.

In addition to its collection of locomotives and rolling stock inside or near the 1884 roundhouse, the museum’s 40-acre campus includes the first mile of commercial track laid in the U.S., the 1851 Mt. Clare Station and portions of the original B&O yard and shops site. That includes the soon-to-be renovated South Passenger Car Works, built in 1869 and in use until it was deeded to the museum in 1990 as the nation’s oldest continuously serving railroad repair shop. The 33,000-square-foot structure will serve as the new main entrance to the museum as part of the museum renovation project. 

This article was posted on: November 29, 2023