President Street Station

Railroad relic with a Civil War history

On April 19, 1861, just one week after the attack on Fort Sumter by Confederate forces marked the beginning of the Civil War, a train carrying Union volunteers with the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment pulled into the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad's President Street Station. At the time, railroad cars traveling south of Baltimore had to be pulled by horses along Pratt Street to Camden Station on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to the west. However, a mob of Southern sympathizers started to attack the train cars and forced the Union troops to get out and start marching through the city streets.

The mob continued their attack with bricks, paving stones, and pistols, leading the Union troops to respond by firing into the crowd, starting a violent skirmish that left four soldiers and twelve civilians dead, 36 soldiers and an unknown number of civilians wounded, along with the loss of much of the regiment’s equipment. One of the soldiers killed, Corporal Sumner Needham of Company I, is often considered to be the first Union casualty of the war.

President Street Station, where the infamous Pratt Street Riot began, was built in 1850 as the Baltimore terminus of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Largely replaced in 1873 by Union Station (now known as Penn Station) which connected the Pennsylvania Railroad and Western Maryland Railway, President Street Station continued to serve a limited number of passenger trains through 1911, later serving as a freight station and then warehouse. By 1970, a fire had destroyed the train shed leaving only the head house. In the 1990s, President Street Station started a new life as the Baltimore Civil War Museum.

Images

President Street Station (1909)

President Street Station (1909)

Exterior view of President Street Station. | Source: Maryland Historical Society, Worthington Collection, PP23.150 | Creator: Attributed to Thomas Chew Worthington III View File Details Page

President Street Station (1856)

President Street Station (1856)

Engraving of the President Street Station. | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division HAER MD,4-BALT,25--1 | Creator: D.C. Baxter View File Details Page

President Street Station (1974)

President Street Station (1974)

View from the northwest of President Street Station with train shed. | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division HAER MD,4-BALT,25--2 | Creator: Jack Boucher View File Details Page

President Street Station Train Shed (1974)

President Street Station Train Shed (1974)

View of the east end of the President Street Station train shed--built 1913. | Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, HAER MD,4-BALT,25--6 | Creator: Jack Boucher View File Details Page

Street Address:

601 President Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 [map]

Official Website:

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Cite this Page:

Eli Pousson, “President Street Station,” Explore Baltimore Heritage, accessed April 27, 2017, http://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/items/show/84.
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