During the heyday of rail service there were thousands of railroad stations throughout the United States. They served as transportation hubs for passenger and freight traffic, and important community centers for small towns and big cities.
The decline of passenger service after World War II led to the closure of many passenger stations and shifts in shipping patterns led to the consolidation of freight terminals. Even though many stations closed and have been torn down, many continue to rest along the side of America’s rails as a reminder of the significance and influence of railroading.
Very few railroad stations date back to the earliest days of railroading in the United States and only the B&O Railroad’s Ellicott City depot has the distinction of being the oldest surviving railroad station in America. Today it functions as a museum focusing on early transportation and the history of the B&O from the beginning of railroading through the end of the Civil War.