June 14, 2021
Written by 
Luke F. McCusker III

Legends Among Rowhouses: Learning about William Galloway

William Galloway (Photos courtesy of Doug Lohmeyer, his great, great, great grandson)

Our experiences at the Irish Railroad Workers Museum include a bit of time travel. Visitors come in the front door with fantastic tales of their railroading heritage and ancestry, and we add these epic stories to our collection pretty often. They illuminate and expand our understanding of the Railroad Workers that are our namesake, and reinforce our understanding of the lives of these heroic forebears.

One of the patterns we see is among the homes of working men and their families. Those with either a modest or a somewhat prominent profession walked to work in the days before public transportation, and their workplaces, social halls and houses of worship were usually within a few blocks of home. This was usually true for those with a little success in life, and we often see that both simple laborers and local railroading legends lived in the modest row houses of West Baltimore.

James Feeley (boilermaker) and family lived at our Museum location at 918 Lemmon Street, while William Smith, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Director of Transportation, lived just a few blocks away. Physicians lived in-between, including Baltimore City's Coroner, and engineers that drove the trains lived in homes scattered through the neighborhood.

Among these was William Galloway, who raised his family along modest McHenry St. It’s just beyond the back fence of today’s B & O Railroad Museum’s parking lot, with a view out the front window that was thick with trains...as it is today.

William was born on September 25, 1809 in Baltimore County, of Scots-Irish parents. He worked for the B & O Railroad for over 50 years, serving as a train dispatcher until a driver was needed for the first train trip headed westward to Ellicott City.

Galloway was at the throttle for the first rail journey from Baltimore to Washington during late summer of 1835, and became the engineer for the Lafayette (pictured above) in 1837. It was the railroad’s first locomotive with a horizontal engine.

He operated this and several other locomotives along the Baltimore-Washington route for almost his entire career, logging over 1.5 million miles with just a few minor accidents.

Galloway served his nation on the occasion of the return of President Lincoln’s body to Springfield in April, 1865. He drove a pilot locomotive northward with railroad employees and soldiers to ensure that the train tracks carrying Lincoln’s funeral train would not be disturbed or delayed by mechanical or other issues.

He and his wife Sarah raised 12 children along the modest cobblestone alley street next to Mount Clare Station, and worshipped at nearby Scott Street Methodist Church. Sarah passed away on December 7, 1882 and her funeral was held at their home at 833 McHenry St. She was followed by William on April 7, 1890.

William and Sarah Galloway left a railroading legacy, as sons and grandsons followed William into the railroading profession. They included Charles W. Galloway, who became the railroad’s operating Vice President. He honored his grandfather by renaming a replica of the Lafayette locomotive as the William Galloway (pictured above).

It went on display for the world to see at the Fair of the Iron Horse (photo below, courtesy of the Library of Congress), a pageant that displayed the Railroad’s role in the development of transportation. The Fair was held over a twenty-three-day period in 1927, and attendees saw a grand display of the modes of travel over time, including many of the locomotives and rolling stock that were vital markers of the railroad’s history. The event was held in a fairground built by the B & O just for the occasion. It was constructed in nearby Halethorpe, with trains bringing large crowds from Baltimore to help celebrate the railroad's 100th anniversary.

More than 1.3 million attended the spectacular event. Among the curious were these young ladies: Catherine Sapp McAleer and Eva Sapp (pictured below).

(photo courtesy of Museum friend Katherine McAleer Betta)

The replica locomotive was housed in Bailey’s Roundhouse on Baltimore’s Howard St., but was put to good use in several movies.

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