Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
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The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad (WMSR) is a heritage railroad based in Cumberland, Maryland that operates passenger excursion trains and occasional freights using both steam and diesel locomotives over ex-Western Maryland Railway (WM) tracks between Cumberland and Frostburg. The railroad offers coach and first class service, as well as reserved caboose rides, murder mystery excursions, and special seasonal trips.
|Locale||Allegany County, Maryland|
|Dates of operation||1988–present|
|Predecessor||Western Maryland Railway|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||16 mi (26 km)|
Rail line descriptionEdit
WMSR excursion trains start in Cumberland at the Western Maryland Railway Station. Built in 1913, the station also houses one of the six Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park visitor centers as well as other attractions and offices. From there, trains follow a former Western Maryland Railway line northwest through the Cumberland Narrows, a deep water gap formed by the passage of Wills Creek between Haystack Mountain and Wills Mountain, parts of the Wills Mountain Anticline geological structure. They then proceed up the Allegheny Front through a water gap formed by Jennings Run, pass Mt. Savage, and terminate at the former Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad depot in Frostburg, where they lay over for about 90 minutes to allow passengers to visit the town while the locomotive is reversed on a turntable that originally served the Western Maryland in Elkins, West Virginia. The train then returns to Cumberland by the same route.
Intermediate sights on the line include:
The Allegheny Highlands Trail of Maryland, part of the Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail between Cumberland and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, parallels the WMSR. Cyclists can make reservations with the railroad to put their bikes on board for the climb up the mountain to Frostburg, then cycle back down to Cumberland.
In 2021, the Federal Railroad Administration asked the WMSR to give their 14-mile trackage 16,000 new ties. The trackage itself not only needed the strength to support No. 1309’s weight, but some of the ties are approaching 50 years old, meaning that they haven’t been replaced since right before the WM abandoned the line in the early 1970s. The estimated cost to replace the 16,000 ties is $2 million.
The WMSR operates out of the former WM's Ridgeley, West Virginia, car shops located just across the Potomac River from Cumberland. The shops include offices, a Federal Railroad Administration building, and the former paint shop which is now used to house the steam engine and perform repairs on the railroad's equipment. The WMSR shops also serve as a business offering restoration services for locomotives and coaches from both commercial and private owners. South, past the Ridgely shops and yard, the WMSR maintains a wye that is used to turn the railroad's locomotives and coaches.
Passenger and Freight EquipmentEdit
Since its creation, the WMSR has gained an extensive collection of light weight style passenger coaches, many of which it either has restored to service in its tuscan and gold livery, or has used for parts to restore other coaches. Many of the restored coaches are painted with the names of local area towns, as well as benefactors of the scenic railroad. The WMSR also has a collection of freight equipment it has collected from CSX and other sources that it uses for storage at the shops, rail line maintenance, and photo freight excursions. The WMSR currently also has three cabooses. They are two ex-C&O cabooses and one ex-WM caboose. Other un-restored equipment includes an ex-Chessie System crane, ex-Amtrak material handling cars, heavyweight coaches and pieces for a turntable.
|734||Baldwin Locomotive Works||Steam SC-1||1916||Inoperable; awaiting its 1,472-day boiler inspection||Normal power for the train is ex-Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad #34, now known as Western Maryland #734, a 1916 Baldwin-built 2-8-0 steam locomotive painted in WM "fireball" livery with a different tender from its original. It was originally built for the LS&I as #18, but renumbered 34 in 1924. The locomotive was sold to the Marquette and Huron Mountain Railroad for a restoration that never came to fruition, and then it came to the Illinois Railway Museum in 1971, and then the WMSR in 1991. After an extensive rebuild, it entered service in 1993; it has received several modifications over the years to give it more of a WM appearance. The 734 was taken out of service after the 2015 season as well as some special excursion trips in February and April 2016 to undergo the 1,472 service-day Federal Railroad Administration inspection. It currently sits in a derelict condition on one of the yard's sidings. Employees say that once restoration work on 1309 is completed, the FRA required rebuild for the engine will take place.|
|1309||Baldwin Locomotive Works||Steam H-6||1949||Operational||Originally built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1949, the engine worked hauling freight trains for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway until its retirement from service in 1956. The railroad obtained the engine from the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Ohio in 2014, for restoration to operating condition. On November 17, 2017, after failing to meet their projected summertime completion date for the C&O 1309 the railroad announced that the project had been put on hiatus. However, in June 2018, it was announced that 1309 had passed its FRA hydro test and that restoration work was resumed. In early October 2018, 1309 had its first successful fire up. As of June 2019, 1309 is being prepared for reinstallation of the drive wheels and other parts. No date is currently set for the first excursion run. On December 31, 2020, the engine was fired up and moved under its own power again for the first time in sixty-four years.|
|501||EMD||Diesel gp30||1963||Operational||Formerly used on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Used as a helper engine for the steam locomotives and as power for short excursions that are run for special events.|
|502||EMD||Diesel gp30||1962||Operational||Formerly used by the Reading Company. Used as a helper engine for the steam locomotives and as power for short excursions that are run for special events.|
|450||EMD||Diesel f40ph||1981||Operational||In September 2018, the WMSR acquired LTEX F40PHR #450 to run excursions for the railroad. It was once Amtrak #308 and Canadian American Railroad #450.|
Two Canadian Pacific 4-6-2's # 1286 & 1238 operated during the early years when the line was called the Allegany Central, along with ALCO built Diesels such as an RS3 from the Boston & Maine, an RSD5 from the Chicago & North Western, & 2 FPA4s From The Canadian National & VIA Rail. Until November 2019, the railroad had a 60-ton Plymouth locomotive for use as a shop switcher.
501 going through Brush Tunnel
- "Federal Railroad Administration". railroads.dot.gov. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
- email@example.com, Greg Larry. "Scenic railroad track needs 50,000 new ties". The Cumberland Times-News. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
- Times-News, KRISTIN HARTY BARKLEY | Special to the. "Sights set on steam: Return of locomotive No. 1309 expected to be big draw for tourists to Western Maryland Scenic Railroad". The Cumberland Times-News. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
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