Preservation Magazine, Fall 2016

Transitions: Threatened—Thomas Viaduct

photo by: Patapsco Heritage Greenway

The Thomas Viaduct in Arbutus, Maryland, is believed to be the world’s oldest multiple-arch stone railroad bridge built on a curve.

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Fall 2016.

This National Historic Landmark, believed to be the world’s oldest multiple-arch stone railroad bridge built on a curve, has been carrying freight trains across Maryland’s Patapsco River continuously since 1835. Today, the span is owned by North American transportation company CSX.

In recent years, stones have come loose from the bridge, which is located within Patapsco Valley State Park. Members of the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, in partnership with Preservation Howard County and other groups, hope to raise money to secure loose stones, clear overgrown vegetation, help CSX replace original iron railings that were damaged and removed over the years, and clean an obelisk on the east end of the viaduct.

In addition, the groups hope to work with the state park to create an area with a clear view of the bridge and interpretive signage to inform park visitors about its history.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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