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Visual Evidence
Image 3: Geographical Obstacles, Tarpean Rock
 
Tarpean Rock was located immediately north of Ellicott’s Mills station (located just outside of Ellicott City today), just beyond the first 13 miles of original B &O rails. 
 
Tarpean Rock was located immediately north of Ellicott’s Mills station (located just outside of Ellicott City today), just beyond the first 13 miles of original B &O rails. Horses were initially used to pull trains along this first leg of the journey from Baltimore. This 1831 view looks south toward the station from the location of the incredible cliff overlooking the Patapsco River. The gap enabling the railroad to proceed along the river was created by blasting through the rock, leaving a towering section of the spur remaining next to the track on the riverside. The spectacular rock remnant was finally blasted away in the late 1850s.

Questions for Image 3:

  1. Why were tunnels and narrow passages like this one built by railroad companies?

  2. How do you think the railroad created the “hole” in the rock formation?

  3. What difficulties would those who carved this passage have faced when constructing it in the 1830s?

  4. Which do you think would present the more difficult challenge when building a railroad: crossing waterways or mountains?
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