December 24, 1852: B&O Railroad Completed Near Moundsville
On Christmas Eve 1852, the last spike was driven on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Baltimore and the Ohio River. The event occurred at Rosbys Rock near Moundsville.
The Baltimore and Ohio—known as the B&O—changed the course of West Virginia history. It produced the first coal boom in the northern part of the state and led to the rapid growth of towns like Harpers Ferry, Martinsburg, Grafton, Parkersburg, Wheeling, and Clarksburg. During the Civil War, it played into the military strategies of both sides, and its tracks were repeatedly damaged and then repaired. When West Virginia statehood leaders carved out the new state’s borders, the eastern panhandle counties were included primarily to keep the B&O in West Virginia and outside of Confederate Virginia.
After the war and well into the 20th century, the B&O was a major force in the economies of West Virginia and the nation. By midcentury, though, it was suffering economically. In 1973, the B&O name disappeared when it was merged with the Chesapeake and Ohio and Western Maryland railways to form the new Chessie System, which is now CSX Transportation