Joseph J. “Jack” Snyder’s book Baltimore and Ohio: The
Passenger Trains and Services of America's First Common-Carrier Railroad,
1827-1971 focuses on the
history of the B&O between it’s formation in 1827 and 1971 when CSX took it over.
Snyder said some highlights of the book include the fact
that the B&O was the first common carrier in the United
States, meaning it carried both freight and
passengers, and it was the railroad on which the first telegraphic messages were
sent in the 1840’s by Samuel Morris.
Snyder said the B&O was also tremendously important to
the Union during the Civil War because it provided
transportation for supplies and soldiers and played crucial role in West
Virginia’s fight for independence.
“The president of the B&O Railroad was a man by the name
of John W. Garrett,” Snyder said. “He essentially opened the corporate coffers
to provide money for this effort to secede from the state of Virginia.
That was the real financing of it.”
Snyder said after the Civil War the B&O expanded to Chicago
and St. Louis.
“It continued to be a very important part of the
transportation system in the United States,”
Snyder said. “It operated in 13 states, in other words about a quarter of the
Snyder said the B&O provided important transportation
for troops during WWI and WWII. It also played a role in the development of the
areas of West Virginia it
“It was one of the major employers for one thing but it was
also absolutely crucial for the movement of goods and farm products and so on,”
Snyder said. It was just an absolutely crucial part of the economy and the
development of the economy in that part of the state.”
Snyder pointed out coal was one of the major commodities
hauled by the B&O to the port of Baltimore and he said remains an important
part of business for the B&O’s successor, CSX.
Passenger service also provided an important service before
the development of interstate highways because it provided a means for people
to get from town to town.
“Many people in fact still get back and forth on the trains
in southern West Virginia on the
Amtrak trains that come through three times a week, the Cardinal is the name of
that particular train,” Snyder said.
Snyder hopes readers will gain an appreciation for history
and for the significance of the B&O Railroad and railroads in general.
“The railroad industry is still a very crucial part of our
economic system in this country,” Snyder said. “People often don’t realize that
transportation is 20 percent of the economy and one dollar out of every five
dollars that’s spent every day in the United
States is spent on transportation.”
Snyder believes it’s to the country’s advantage to have a
system that includes decent railroad transportation.
Baltimore and Ohio: The Passenger Trains and
Services of America's First Common-Carrier Railroad, 1827-1971 is published by Juniper House
Click on the link to hear an interview with Snyder.