There still may be some rail from the WB&A still under the pavement on King George Street, College Ave and West St.
Early on, the City of Annapolis had complaints about the rail traffic in their streets, especially as motor traffic increased, and began an on- going effort to have the trains in the streets removed. But the railroad had a franchise, so this would not be an easy move on the part of the city. The railroad did want to end the local service which the city had insisted on at first, so it was easy to discontinue that service, prior to WWI. Originally, the railroad had a road voltage of 6600 volts.a.c. which was converted to 1200-volts d.c in 1910. But before that, the voltage on the city street-portion of Annapolis was 500-volts, d.c., requiring the change over while at the station stop a West Street. The cars were dual-voltage since they also had to use the d.c voltage in Washington and Baltimore when on streetcar trackage.
So a plan was created by James .J. Doyle, who worked up through he ranks to become the President of the WB&A, to connect the North Shore Division track at Bladen Street with the trackage in the street on College Ave, in order to enable North Shore trains to travel to the ferry slip at the foot of King George Street. Trains on the South Shore Division would then use the connecting track to the North Shore Division at West Annapolis, called "The Bay Ridge Connection" and as a result, the trackage on West Street, Church Circle, Main Street and Randall Street could be abandoned, to the glee of the city.
With Doyle's plan appearing to be near implementation, in order to appease the city, the railroad prematurely relinquished 0.5301 miles of track under Public Utilities Commission Order #13287. Under the new plan, tracks remained on West Street, and around a portion of Church Circle that leads to College Avenue and King George Street. Until the new connection from Bladen Street was constructed, the trains coming from West Street temporarily entered the circle traveling the "wrong way", or against traffic, for a short block to College Avenue. The city was willing to except this temporary measure in light of the relief realized by the Main Street trackage removal.
But when Doyle died suddenly on January 19, 1929, the track connection plan seemed to die with him. With no prospect of the end of "wrong way" running at Church Circle, the city again became agitated and took up the battle once again with the railroad. This time, in mid-October, they erected a "No Left Turn" sign at the corner of West Street and Church Circle and gave notice that after a 30-day grace period, the sign would be enforced. As a safety precaution, when the railroad began this move "against traffic" in the circle, the standard procedure was for the train to come to a halt on West Street and for the conductor to get off with a red flag and walk around to College Avenue and stop the traffic in the circle, and then wave the train through.
On November 14, 1929 at 9:30am, Motorman Harry Basil did just that, as his brother, Conductor John "Wes" Basil stepped off with the flag. The crowd that had formed for the event included the Mayor, the Chief of Police and his officers, the press, and about 100 spectators. As the train started to move, the city officials stopped it and issued both Harry and "Wes" a traffic ticket for turning left at a "No Left Turn" sign. As they were writing out the summons, "Wes" became impatient and said, “Okay, okay. This is fine. But please stand aside and let us through. You are holding up the railroad. I have a schedule to keep.” The brothers were seasoned railroad men, coming to the WB&A when control was taken in 1903 of the AW&B steam road. Even there they had worked together, with the duo being well known by locals as a formidable force. So “Wes’s” reaction was predictable to most as he simply took the traffic ticket, totally unconcerned, and stuffed it into his uniform coat pocket along with spent railroad tickets, and waved Harry on. The railroad paid the fines that day and obtained an injunction against the sign, which permitted the trains to continue until the matter was fully adjudicated.
The final ruling was that that railroad equipment operating in the streets of Maryland, need not obey any traffic control devises. That law, which is still on the books, was taken full advantage of by other railroads on Baltimore streets. Streetcars were not considered a railroad operation and were not included.
The city refused to renew the franchise which expired on June 30, 1932 as the battle with the railroad continued. The railroad was able to obtain another injunction and court ruling in their favor forcing the renewal. Later, in an attempt to cool the matter down after so many years of bickering, the railroad agreed, effective June 1, 1934, to limit the number of scheduled trains on the street trackage to those making a direct ferry connection: six a day in the summer and three a day in the winter, in addition to any special or chartered trains. All street running in Annapolis ended when the railroad ceased operations on Tuesday, August 20, 1935. The rails remaining in the street were covered over with blacktop except the rails on Main Street which had been completely removed earlier during the city’s 1929 repaving project.
For a few weeks in 1988, the rails on College Avenue and King George Street lay exposed as street crews milled down the blacktop to the sand colored brick as part of a repaving project. Fortunately, I took photos of this on July 27th, 1988.
After the WB&A's abandonment, the North Shore was reorganized into the Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad and began operating electric cars from Howard and Lombard Sts in Baltimore to Bladen Street on August 21, 1935, lasting until the early morning hours of February 5, 1950 when buses were substituted. On September 8, 1935, the Baltimore end of the operation was changed to Track 4 and 5 of the B&O's Camden Station by use of a new connecting track north of Westport to the B&O’s South Baltimore Branch. What had been the South Shore continued to be operated (by the B&A) west as far a Crownsville, for coal shipments to the hospital using the “Bay Ridge” connection at Cedar Park, until August 25, 1936. This was on the request of the hospital since a contract for heating coal was still in effect. The agreement was between the State, the railroad and Boston Iron and Metal, the scrap dealer who owned the tracks and right-of-way.
After August, 1936, service was cut back to Simm's crossing, Parole. After electric operation ended in February, 1950, diesel freight operated from 1950 until May, 1968 when all Annapolis service ended with B&A service being embargoed south of Jones, primarily due to the poor condition of the Severn River trestle. The steel suspension poles at curbside were retained by the city in 1935 for street light mounting and many are still in use today on both College Ave. and Main Street.