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Following are a few stories about the station’s history. Come visit us to see it for yourself!

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Capitol Limited “Drumhead” Comes to Silver Spring Station

Drumheads are a type of removable sign that were often used by North American railroads during the first half of the twentieth century, These signs were mounted on the rear of passenger trains and consisted of a circular metal canister with a tinted panel of glass (later Plexiglas) that bore a logo of the railroad or of a specific named train. The drumheads were electrically wired to illuminate the sign at night. Because of their shape, they resembled small drums and came to be known as drumheads. Some drumheads were also made in rectangular or other shapes. They were normally only made for a railroad’s most important passenger trains and never used on local service or commuter trains. They would always be on the last car, which was often a lounge or observation car. The signs were made to be movable so they could be used on whatever was the last car of a particular train on different days. Although drumheads were mostly prevalent in the era of steam trains, they survived on some railroads into the streamlined diesel era.

The Capitol Limited drumhead on display in the Silver Spring B&O station was originally on steam powered trains and was manufactured at the railroad’s Mt Clare shops in Baltimore, MD. These drumheads were replaced with blue metal plaques with gold script lettering when the railroad transitioned to new streamlined equipment in the late ’30’s. This piece was originally acquired by the father of one-time Silver Spring resident Ed McHugh. Mr. McHugh’s father worked in the mechanical department at Mt. Clare.

This drumhead made many stops at the Silver Spring B&O Station during the Capitol Limited’s daily runs between Baltimore, Washington and Chicago.

Photo by Jerry A. McCoy, SSHS; description by John Sery, MPI

Restoration Work at the Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station

The Silver Spring B&O Station has been owned by Montgomery Preservation since 1998.  With the help of private donors and public partners, MPI was able to repair considerable damage, remove post-1945 changes and graffiti, catch up with deferred maintenance, update utility systems, restore original interior features in place, and replace original artifacts as they returned from other places. The station re-opened in November 2002, looking as sharp as it did in 1945.

Since then, rentals and donations have enabled MPI and its partner Silver Spring Historical Society to keep up with building maintenance and to set funds aside for larger restoration projects in future years.  Recent maintenance work on the station included repairs to fascia boards and gutters.

In late 2016, MPI received approval from the Maryland Historical Trust (which holds an easement on the building’s exterior, interior, and grounds) to restore 10 windows and to reconstruct one exterior door.  The work accomplished by the Oak Grove Restoration Company over a six-month period can be described as both spectacular and understated.  Each window was carefully removed, then taken to Oak Grove’s Laytonsville shop to be individually evaluated and recommended for treatment.  Specifics were approved by MPI and MHT, and the incredibly detailed restoration process began.  Perhaps the best testimony to this tedious process of identifying best practices, following long-established rules, and contracting with an experienced contractor is that the station’s windows and doors fit, work, and look as they did when the station opened in December 1945.

Enjoy these photographs of Oak Grove craftsmen painstakingly replacing rotted components and preparing these handsome wooden architectural features for another 70 years of service.

B&O Station window restoration

Pictures show repairs to one of the window rails on the train station window. We distinguish between the inside & outside of the sash when designing the particular repairs. The outside work is more precise and everything has to be able to survive outdoors. You see in the pics how we sawed the exterior face of the rotted rail completely off and epoxyed a new mahogany board in its place. Window is returned to mortise and tenon. The part that was cut away is on the workbench and you can see how rotted it is. This method conserves the sound historic fabric while restoring the sash. Epoxy was used as an adhesive, not for repairs.

The lock rail weatherstripping interlocks with other pieces mounted on the other sash lock rail, making a metal tongue & groove connection.  Metal weatherstripping (as used for 100+ years) will go onto the sash sides and the bottom rails.

Bottom sash will be operable and lockable.     TRANSLATION:  rails go horizontally, sash is vertical.

B&O Station window restoration 1

The new station master’s door is also spectacular.  It is identical to the original one that had wood too rotted to rescue. And what a difference polishing the original brass hardware has made!   

If you haven’t yet seen our 10 restored windows and new door, stop by to admire them!

All photos are by Hank Handler, Oak Grove Restoration Co.

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