The day was February 28, 1827. The city was Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America. The first railroad tracks were laid. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had begun in Baltimore, and it would spread across the continent. A roundhouse was built to service the trains to keep them running.
It was at this very place where the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum was erected, and that roundhouse that once was a repair shop is now home to the oldest collection of rolling stock in America from locomotives to old freight cars to passenger cars to include a few locomotives that changed the course of railroading history. Oh, you can visit the museum without riding a train along the first mile and a half stretch of track laid in America, and you can ride part the Mount Clare House, the home of Charles Carroll, Barrister who gave some of his land for the railroad to be built. After you ride the train and see the collections, you think that you are done here… but you are not done yet. What else could there be? You have seen everything, right? You have not seen everything.
To answer that question, you must first ask, “Who built all of this?” Who laid the track? Who built the roundhouse? Who serviced the locomotives and rolling stock?
As the roundhouse and the first tracks have been preserved, so has the neighborhood north of the museum. It was where the railroad workers lived. One block from the B&O Railroad Museum is another museum that tells the story of the workers who built America’s first railroad.
Welcome to the Irish Railroad Worker’s Museum also known as the Irish Shrine commemorating those who built America’s first railroad. It is here where you will see the stories unfold. Erected in a few old row houses where the workers once lived, the museum shows the story of the Irish worker’s family life. The one section show what the worker’s home would have looked like. The second section shows the workers socialized and how they worshipped. The story of the first railroad is truly told in these few houses.
The Irish Railroad Workers Museum is located at 918 and 920 Lemmon Street in Baltimore, just one block from the B&O Museum. It is open on Friday and Saturday from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. Along with the tour of the two houses there are also neighborhood tours as well as special events that go deeper into the history of America’s first railroad builders. You can get more information at www.irishshrine.org. In case you are wondering, you do not have to be Irish or have Irish descent to appreciate this museum. You only need a love for the history of the railroad.
Whenever you visit the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, take a little time to see the Irish Railroad Workers Museum. It is all a part of the beginning of the railroad in America.