A number of web sites provide brief histories of the Baltimore and Ohio. Unfortunately they do not always seem to agree, particularly when it comes to the matter of exactly when the railroad ceased to exist, and just how the end came about. According to John Stover's History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Trains magazine from November of 1990, and CSX's own website, here is what happened.

In the 1950's the B&O, like many railroads, had very serious financial problems. The New York Central proposed a three way merger with both the Baltimore and Ohio and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1959. The C&O, however, rejected the plan. Soon both the Central and the C&O were buying B&O stock in an effort to gain control of the troubled line. By late 1960 the New York Central had acquired about 10 percent of B&O's shares but the C&O already had 30 and by the Spring of the next year had increased that amount to almost 70 percent.

The Chesapeake and Ohio applied to the ICC for legal control of the B&O which was granted on New Year's Eve of 1962 and became official on February 4, 1963. It is important to note that, while the two companies combined much of their management, the railroads themselves retained their separate identities.

In 1964 the C&O began to take steps to bring the Western Maryland into the system. The C&O and B&O already had about two thirds of Western Maryland's stock by that time. ICC approval for control was obtained in March of 1968.

The Chessie System was created in the early '70's and the three railroads were made subsidiaries in June of 1973. Once again, even though the companies had common ownership and even began using the Chessie System paint schemes later on, they remained separate lines.

CSX was incorporated in November of 1978 for the purpose of merging the Chessie System with Seaboard Coast Line Industries, also known as the Family Lines and later the Seaboard System. The following January  the two companies filed a joint application with the ICC. With the ICC's approval the merger of the two systems became effective on November 1, 1980.

The Western Maryland was merged into the C&O in May of 1983 while their operations were taken over by the B&O. Then in April of 1987 the B&O was merged into the C&O and at that time, almost a quarter century after the Chesapeake and Ohio had gained control, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ceased to exist. A few months later the C&O itself was merged into CSX.

In the wake of the recent split of Conrail between CSX and Norfolk Southern it is interesting to note that CSX ended up with most of the former New York Central trackage, while the Norfolk Southern ended up with most of the old Pennsylvania. Of course the Pennsy had at one time controlled the Norfolk and Western and, as mentioned earlier, the New York Central had proposed a merger with the C&O and B&O.

History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad by John F. Stover.
Trains Magazine, November 1990.

Copyright © 1999-2024 Scott Dunlap

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