The town of Point of Rocks in the U.S. state of Maryland is a small town on the Potomac River that gets its name from a rock formation. It is a place with a historic train station, and it is known as a great train watching spot as it is at a junction of two rail routes. (They were original lines of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, but they are owned by CSX today.) Once a passenger train station, it is a commuter train station for trains going to Union Station today. The train station, built by Ephraim Francis Baldwin in 1876, is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it is not open to the public as it serves as offices for CSX. As a railroad town, it has seen some railroad battles.
As the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was building the railroad toward the Ohio River Valley in Pennsylvania and Ohio, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was being built to connect barge traffic between the Chesapeake Bay and the Ohio River. Both the railroad and the canal converged at Point of Rocks. Both wanted the passage along the Potomac River. The result was that the passage was shared by both the railroad and the canal. Originally constructed as a single line, a second line was constructed by tunneling through the mountain with two tunnels with the original line still on its original route around the mountain. The tunnels are still in operation today and can be seen from the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path.
The second battle at Point of Rocks and the railroad took place during the American Civil War. This war was led by the famous Confederate General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson who led the Confederate Army across the Potomac River to Point of Rocks attacking the railroad line and seizing 56 locomotives and 300 rail cars. During the war, the railroad line attacked numerous times. Henry A. Cole was put in charge of what was known as Cole’s Maryland Cavalry who was set in the town to protect the railroad from future attacks.
Today, the main action in the town of Point of Rocks, Maryland are the trains passing through the junction. The trains pass through safely today, and many train watchers flock here to watch them roll by.
Point of Rocks, Maryland is served by U.S. Route 15 which crosses the Potomac River. The old train station is on Maryland Route 28 east of U.S. Route 15 beside the Marc Commuter lot. It is wheelchair accessible.
The next time you are in Point of Rocks watching the trains, remember that it is a quiet place where the railroad brought much turmoil.