Today, you visit the town of Chesapeake Beach in the U.S. state of Maryland, and you see a town on the west coast of the Chesapeake Bay. As a suburb of Washington D.C., people come here to do some fine dining with the view of the bay.
That was not always the case.
It was the late nineteenth century. A group of men wanted to build a resort town on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay where the people of Washington D.C. could escape the big city. The resort featured a beach, a roller coaster, a carousel, a band shell, a casino, and a hotel. At the time, not as many people owned automobiles so getting people to this resort town would be a problem. The Washington Metropolis was pretty far away. How where they going to get the vacationers here? In 1898, a train station was built just a hundred feet from the beach, and, on June 9, 1900, the Chesapeake Beach Railway was erected. Passengers boarded at District Line Station in Seat Pleasant, Maryland which was located at the easternmost point of the District of Columbia, and they rode the train making various stops along the way and arriving at the train station in Chesapeake Beach. Sadly, the railroad died in 1935. Decades later, the town was no longer a resort town. The train tracks were taken up in the 1970’s…. but the owners of the Rod and Real Resort and Spa spared the old Chesapeake Beach Railway Station leaving it in its original location making it the only surviving train station from the railway.
So, the train station was left to rot… Not exactly.
In 1979, the old train station became the home of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum. Inside, you will see displays of the glory days of Chesapeake Beach, and you will see how the Chesapeake Beach Railway contributed to the success of the town. There is a model train display that shows the journey between the District Line Station in Seat Pleasant, Maryland through to its arrival in Chesapeake Beach.
The Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum is open on Saturdays from 12:00pm to 4:00pm from April to November. It is located at 4155 Mears Avenue just off Maryland Route 261. Parking is free and available in a nearby parking garage. Admission is also free, but donations are accepted. The museum is run by volunteers from the Friends of the Chesapeake Beach Railroad Museum. The train station is on the National Register of Historic Places and is includes with the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. You can learn more about the museum and the history of the town and railway at https://chesapeakebeachrailwaymuseum.com/.
When you visit the town of Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, you will see a different town that what is was when it began. It was a town made possible by a railroad. The railroad is gone, but thanks to the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum and the Rod and Real Restaurant, the ghosts of the railroad still remain.