The Traveler’s B & O Christmas Tree, a Holiday Tradition

The tradition for kicking off the Christmas Season in Cecil County is the annual lighting of the “Holly Tree by-the-tracks.” The Baltimore & Ohio held the first public ceremony in 1948 when thousands of people gathered to ring in the season as lights from thousands of colorful  bulbs on the evergreen softly illuminated the Jackson, MD hillside. For many years the company dispatched a special train from Mount Royal Station to Jackson for the occasion. After 1971, the tree was dark for a time until a group of volunteers started making sure the tree festively blazed for the holiday season.

There’s an an old 33 1/3 long playing record that captures the magic of the 1954 lighting ceremony, including carols by the B & O Glee Club and the B & O Women’s Music Choir. That old vinyl, a long unheard broadcast, has sat silently on a shelf, but I recently digitized the audio in order to hear the snap, crackle and pop of the vinyl recording, as another a lost sound poured from the speakers. Musical selections directed by Dr. James Allan Dash, a narration by the master of ceremonies Walter Linthicum, gasps of delight and loud applause, and much more poured from the speakers.  Click here to listen to a sample of the evening’s program.

Also enjoy this slide show containing tree lighting photos.

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