It began with a vision by primarily two men, John Work Garrett who was ultimately the President of the B&O and E. Francis Baldwin who was the primary architect of the B&O buildings. These men built many of the B&O buildings from the Central Building and Camden Station in Baltimore, to the station in Parkersburg, WV.
Mr. Garrett became the president of the B&O in 1858 after a acrimonious stockholders fight. Mr. Garrett was bound to stockholders with a promise of a good return on their investments and caught in a race to see to see which would be the major railroad line to the west, the B&O or the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Railroads were trying to provide the fastest and most convenient service at the cheapest rates.
John also got caught up in the Civil War with promises to dedicate the railroad to the Union and promised President Lincoln that trains would serve the Northern cause. Mr. Garrett was powerful in Annapolis, the halls of Baltimore and very influential in the development of Western Maryland.
When the last county in Maryland was granted the right to govern itself, they decided to take his name. He rewarded it with a beautiful train station, a church and several hotels. The railroad helped vacationers to reach these southern destinations. Mr. Garrett died in September of 1884 in his cottage in Deer Park, the same year the Oakland Station was begun.
With strong support from the community, the B&O Committee and under the leadership of the Mayor and Town Council of Oakland, the 1884 B&O Railroad Station has undergone a complete, historically-accurate restoration.
The exterior renovations included the repair of historic windows, roof shingles, gutters and general painting. Interior renovations included the addition of a central air system, humidity controls, ultraviolet light filters, refinished floors, painting and upgrades to the heating and security systems.
The B&O Museum Committee has been busy building partnerships with a variety of organizations, local governments as well as private foundations in order to preserve the train station. Additionally, the museum received a project grant from the Maryland Heritage Area s Authority Financing Fund through the Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Area for the upcoming exhibit space that is needed.
It began with a vision long ago and now it is looked upon with a new vision, it includes preserving the past and educating a new generation.
The B&O Train Station is going to house the B&O Museum. It’s Queen Anne style architecture is the centerpiece of Oakland’s history and it is one of the most distinguished, historic depots in the country.
In 1974, the Station itself was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Museum will feature many local artifacts. It will also feature rotating exhibits and artifacts from the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, MD which is an independent nonprofit education institution and it possesses the oldest, most historic and most comprehensive American railroad collections in the world.
It is in integral part of Garrett County and in particular Oakland’s history. It will also become part of the local Main Street Community and will contribute to the educational center in downtown Oakland. A portion of the museum will contain an educational center serving school aged children, the local community and visitors.
The opening of the B&O Railroad Museum in Oakland will complete the third museum in downtown Oakland. The Garrett County Historical Society Museum and the newly completed Transportation Museum have been popular destinations for many visitors. This unique historic resource is a wonderful and treasured part of the county’s heritage.