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The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Hall of Fame

Introduction

The idea of a “Hall of Fame” conjures up visions of Cooperstown and Canton, where a select few from the sports world are enshrined for their heroic efforts on the playing fields. This lesson plan allows students to be the voters for a B&O Railroad Hall of Fame.  Profiles of notable figures in the history of the first commercial railroad in America are provided and students are asked to make their case for the selection of three charter members for induction. William Murphy and James Noble are fictional characters representing those who served the railroad relatively anonymously in positions that would not get their names in the history books. 

The impact of the B&O Railroad on the history of our community, our state, and our nation is well documented. If possible, a visit to the museum would be helpful preparation for, or as a follow up to, completion of this exercise. This is a chance for students to express their views about those individuals who played vital roles during the lifetime of the company. There is no actual B&O Hall of Fame, so there are no “right” answers. The exercise is designed to engage students in the process of determining the historical importance of a variety of people. All aspects of railroad operations are represented in the list of candidates, from top management to manual laborers. Encourage students to provide supporting arguments for their choices. This activity is designed for students working in groups of three to five, but may also be completed as an individual writing assignment, followed by a full class discussion and vote on the nominees.

Profiles of nominees for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Hall of Fame:

          1. Charles Carroll - founder
          2. Peter Cooper - Tom Thumb
          3. Benjamin H. Latrobe, Jr. - construction engineer
          4. John W. Garrett - president 1858-1884
          5. Daniel Willard - president 1910-1941
          6. William Murphy - Irish immigrant laborer, 1840’s-1850’s
          7. James Noble - conductor, 1910-1940
          8. Olive W. Dennis - engineer of service
          9. Maggie Hudson - African-American train attendant
 
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