Baltimore faced economic decline unless it opened routes to the western states, as New York had done with the Erie Canal. In 1827, twenty-five merchants and bankers studied the best means of restoring "that portion of the Western trade which has recently been diverted from it by the introduction of steam navigation." Their answer was to build a railroad—one of the first commercial lines in the world. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad became the first chartered railroad in the United States; twenty thousand investors purchased $5 million in stock to import the rolling stock and build the line. It was a commercial and financial success, and invented many new managerial methods that became standard practice in railroading and modern business. The B&O became the first company to operate a locomotive built in America, with the "Tom Thumb" in 1829. It built the first passenger and freight station (Mount Clare in 1829) and was the first railroad that earned passenger revenues (December 1829), and published a timetable (May 23, 1830). On December 24, 1852, it became the first rail line to reach the Ohio River from the eastern seaboard.
Its lines are still profitable, though it was merged into the CSX system in 1987.
- Dilts, James D. The Great Road: The Building of the Baltimore & Ohio, The Nation's First Railroad, 1828--1853 (1993)
- Harwood Jr., Herbert H. Impossible Challenge: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Maryland (1979)
- Jacobs, Timothy, ed. The History of the Baltimore & Ohio: America's First Railroad (1989).
- Vrooman, David M. Daniel Willard and Progressive Management on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, (1991), 218 pp. He was in charge 1910-1940