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A few weeks ago I visited the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. The first part of the collection you see is housed in the restored roundhouse that was part of the historic Mount Clare Shops. Mount Clare is considered to be the birthplace of Railroading in America as it was from here that the first regular railroad passenger service began in May 1830. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad began construction at Mount Clare in a suburb of Baltimore the previous year making it the oldest railroad manufacturing complex in the United States. It is appropriate that this magnificently restored structure should house one of the most significant collections of historic railroad exhibits in America.
Over the next few weeks we will take a look at just a few of the treasures the museum has to offer including Clinchfield No 1 and Thatcher Perkins, both beautiful steam locomotives from the second half of the 19th century. Today, though, we will take a moment to admire the wonderful details that are the rafters of the roundhouse itself. Unlike most roundhouses, where there is a turntable and an arc-shaped building built near the turntable pit, this roundhouse completely surrounds the turntable. The turntable inside the building has been boarded over but the gears that moved it are visible beneath a glass panel in the floor. If you stand on this glass panel you are in the exact center of the building. Looking up provides a perfectly symmetrical view of the decorative architectural woodwork elements on the clerestory and lantern of the roundhouse roof.