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Visual Evidence

Image 2: Coal Hoppers in Martinsburg, Virginia, c. 1850s

Coal Hoppers in Martinsburg, Virginia, c. 1850s 

By the time the B&O Railroad reached into western Maryland and Virginia in the 1850s, coal surpassed flour as the main freight commodity transported over the mainline. Iron coal hopper cars, like the ones shown here in the foreground, were designed to haul this durable commodity. Coal hoppers were generally open on the top, and had narrow shoots at the bottom to unload the coal easily. Note to teachers: Use the maps from the earlier portions of this lesson to assist students with these questions.
Questions for Image 2
1.      Where is Martinsburg located in relation to Baltimore?
2.      What appears to be in the freight cars in the foreground of the photo?
3.      How are these freight cars different from the flour barrel cars shown in Image 1?
4.      Why do you think so many people are gathered around the train?
5.      Do you think these freight cars are heading toward or away from Baltimore? Why?

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