Discussion relating to the B&O up to it's 1972 merger into Chessie System. Visit the B&O Railroad Historical Society for more information. Also discussion of the C&O up to 1972. Visit the C&O Historical Society for more information. Also includes the WM up to 1972. Visit the WM Historical Society for more information.
  by Engineer Spike
I have always wondered what made the B&O a weak sister to the point that C&O took over. B&O had lots of coal traffic too. Was the deindustrialization of Pittsburgh, OH, and IN the weakening blow?
  by Allen Hazen
B &O was (comparatively) weak long before the post WWII decline of the "Rust Belt." Not sure why-- factors MIGHT include
--trying to compete with NYC and PRR while being only half the size
--not reaching the New York-New jersey region on its own rails, and having a very much smaller metropolis at its eastern end
--having a long and roundabout route between Chicago and New York, two markets which were more important (relative to the total economic activity of the nation) in early 20th C than they are now
--having a worse crossing of the Alleghenies than PRR's, let alone the NYC's "Water Level Route" (Cranberry and 17 Mile grades are both over 2%, I think, and longer thanPRR's 1.8% climb from Altoona to Gallitzin)

B&O was controlled by the PRR for a time in early 20th C. In late 19th C I think B&O did more "rebating" (unadvertised discounts to big shippers) than PRR. This strikes me as something a more hard-up (not to say desperate) management would have resorted to (and the sort of thing that would make the PRR's management unwilling to allow the B&O to remain independent).
  by hutton_switch
There are numerous factors that led to the C&O's takeover of the B&O, but the two primary ones are: 1) poor financial management, and 2) lack of adaptation to the ever-changing railroad environment that was going on in the 'fifties/early 'sixties where B&O failed to keep up. There are two good one-volume books available from Amazon.com you can read that give a good picture of how and why the B&O got into this predicament: 1) Stover, John F.: History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad http://tinyurl.com/7rvxphp and 2) Grant, H. Roger: Visionary Railroader: Jervis Langdon Jr. and the Transportation Revolution (Railroads Past and Present) http://tinyurl.com/85l6kqe
  by mmi16
B&O took out large loans early in the depression to keep out of bankruptcy. Service on this debt impeded it's ability to forge forward with sufficient capital expenditures to reward it with financial health into the 50's & 60's.