Dear PoP – Is there a Train Near Adams Morgan/Woodley Park?

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Photo by PoPville flickr user cacophony76

“Dear PoP,

Any ideas on why a train can sometimes be heard near Adams Morgam/Woodley? Where is this train??”

I asked a similar question back in May ’07. At that time I inquired about hearing a train from my home in Petworth. I was told that I was “hearing trains on the track that runs along the Red Line metro track parallel to North Capitol and then along Blair to Silver Spring.”

Anyone know what train you can hear from Adams Morgan/Woodley Park? Is it the same one?

15 Comment

  • Some nights… when the wind’s blowin’ just right and the moon’s full… they say you can hear the whistle from the ol’ Frontier Express. See, she left Washington one fine mornin’ in 1848 on her way out west, chock full o’ prospectors with gold nuggets dancin’ in their eyes. But she never made it, and to this day nobody really know fer sure what happened to that thar train…

  • Depends on what the person is hearing and where they are hearing it. If you are along Connecticut Ave. on the outer edges of Adams Morgan, you can definitely hear the Metro. But if you’re like me and have heard a regular good old train whistle (not the metro kind) that’s coming from any of the Amtrak or CSX trains, I think it just depends on the conditions (early morning/late night with no other noise around etc.) foggy/cloudy (which for some reason seems to make the sounds travel better. If you are also lucky and it’s quite, you can hear the gibbons from the Zoo and even on occasion, the lions and wolves (this would be the National Zoo, not 18th St. on a Fri/Sat night).

  • It’s Cat Steven’s Peacetrain, clearly off its tracks east of the park.

  • You’re probably hearing the trains as they cross the Potomac down by the 14th Street Bridge. That’s my guess, anyway, since there’s a nearly unobstructed view of that part of town from the roof of the building my uncle lives in on Calvert Street, near the Woodley Park Metro.

  • That’s just me raging at the bars.


  • Probably the MARC going up the Brunswick Line near RI Ave station, with a strong east wind, no reason why you can’t hear that on the hill

  • And here I thought spending all day at home made him lose his mind, after reading the commentary I see where he might have been taking this. Jamie and Mannmade, right on.

    Once in Cottage City I was hoping to hear the cannons from Capitol Hill during the inauguration but couldn’t.

    Sound like a mirage, gets trapped in some sort of atmospheric thermocline layers, physics you know, and can’t get out. Angles of attack or something, it can’t get out and goes on and on. Or skip waves on CB radio (once I could hear Brazil from Boston).

    Having recently moved from Adams Morgan to Petworth, the sounds you likely hear more often than not are the rail lines heading north from Union Station. They are much louder over here. But thankfully all the jet noise from National is less. Toot toot.

  • you’re probably hearing the metro through the ventilation grates in the street

  • real train whistles from freight trains can clearly be heard downtown. kinda’ makes me think I’m living in a small town. cue the John Mellencamp.

  • My sis lives in Riverdale and the trains roar by her house and when they blow the whistle it’s really loud. I’ve occasionally heard a similar (distant) sound in Petworth but only once in a while. I’m not sure where the trains blow their whistles closest into DC…seems crazy to think the sound is traveling from out in the MD suburbs.

    @manmade – maybe you’re right!

  • Jamie: if PoP had a post of the week, you win. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face.

  • I heard train whistles when I lived in Mount Pleasant and hear them here in Columbia Heights. Usually early morning or late evening – when the city is relatively quiet. I love it.

  • This post has some of the funniest responses that I’ve ever read on this blog

  • I’ve been consistently hearing the train horns from an 8th floor Woodley Park apartment with a northeast exposure for the 19 years I’ve lived here. Even with windows closed it’s often easy to distinctly hear the train horn which sounds to be coming from east of that location. I too believe the horns are from Brunswick line MARC trains, Amtrak, CSX or possibly other trains headed to or from Union Station on those tracks. In DC there are no obstructions to block sound from that direction when I am 8 stories up and from my building I can clearly see the spire and dome of the National Shrine which is not very far from those tracks north of Union Station. The horn sound and pattern I hear does not match that of Metro trains which I never have heard from my apartment but it is similar to Marc, CSX and Amtrak trains I often see and hear when I’m in other parts of the area.

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