Kensington B&O Railroad Station
Kensington's train station, constructed in 1891
A map of the B&O Railroad's rail services. Note the mainline and the Washington detour.
Backstory and Context
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was incorporated in 1827 to bring Baltimore back into competition in westerly trade after New York had constructed the successful Erie Canal. From Baltimore, the mainline stretched west to West Virginia and beyond, however, originally, the mainline did not stop in Washington, and instead bypassed through northern Maryland.
However, in 1835, a branch line from Baltimore to Washington opened, diverging from the B&O mainline at Relay station. The line terminated in Washington at Union Station. With Washington growing rapidly during and after the Civil War, the railroad decided to fully connect Washington with the rest of the mainline, building the 49-mile long "Metropolitan Branch," which reconnected with the mainline at Point of Rocks station. The Metropolitan Branch opened in 1873, and the opening of the line brought major suburbanization to Montgomery County villages it stopped at.
The Kensington station opened in 1891. Originally there were separate waiting areas for men and women, and a master's office in the center. While originally named Knowles Station after George Knowles, the station was renamed Kensington in 1894 after Brainard H Warner, the founder of the town, named his planned community Kensington after a visit to England.
In addition to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad service at the station, there was also a streetcar service to the station. The Kensington Electric Railway ran a 2.5 mile service from Kensington station to the terminus of the Rock Creek Railway, which ran from Chevy Chase into the city. The line was later taken over by the Capital Traction Company, one of Washingtons' two main streetcar companies. Although plans existed to extend the line all the way to Sandy Spring, these never came to fruition with the best start being an extension to Howard Avenue reaching 3000 feet. The service was retired in 1933.
Through mergers, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad became a part of the CSX transport networks. It is used by the MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) Brunswick Line, which services Union Station to stations in West Virginia, and by the Amtrak Capitol Limited service to Chicago.
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"National Register of Historic Places Inventory--Nomination Form: Kensington Historic District." U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service. Accessed April 25, 2017. https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/NR_PDFs/NR-638.pdf.
Capital Subdivision, Wikipedia. Accessed March 5th 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_Subdivision.
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Townsend, Wilson L. Knowles Station and the Town of Kensington: Part One. Montgomery County Story, vol. 7, no. 1. Published November 1963.
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