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On Friday, we enjoyed a special day out on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. The hubster and I went with my parents and aunts for a Scenic Excursion on the railroad, on a train pulled by steam engine 734, known as Mountain Thunder. We thought it would be an interesting trip on its own, plus my dad especially loves trains. And this particular steam engine will be temporarily retired while it undergoes the required inspection, so it was a bit of a special occasion.
|Dad and me in front of No.734 at the station|
|taking on water - lots of steam will be needed!|
Our trip began at the Western Maryland Railway Station in Cumberland, where in the 19th century, three major transportation routes began or ended. The city prospered as the National Road (now the Route 40), the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal transported raw materials, products, and people between the East Coast and the new states.
The railway took us through The Narrows, the country's first "Gateway to the West". This cut in the Allegheny Front was used by the National Road as well as the B&O, C&P, and Western Maryland railways. We also crossed a double truss bridge over the National Road. Although our ride was very late in the season, and the brightest autumn colors were past, we still had some beautiful scenery to take in.
One spectacular section was Helmstetter's Curve, a 1/2 mile horseshoe curve where riders on the train can see the engine up ahead.
There's one tunnel on the route, Brush Tunnel. Apparently, it was featured in a Pontiac Montana commercial a few years ago.
Another hairpin curve on the route is at Woodcock Hollow.
Then we were afforded this gorgeous view of the town of Mount Savage, which was especially prosperous during the 1840s when the Mount Savage Ironworks was producing 200 tons of iron every week. It was the only American manufacturer of heavy railroad iron at the time, and by 1852 was the largest ironworks in the United States.
We had about an hour and a half at the Frostburg Depot, the end of the line. When the Cumberland & Pennsylvania Railroad built the depot in 1891, however, it saw regular business from two daily C&P trains which connected the communities to the larger railroads. In 1942 service was discontinued when the National Road made rail service unsustainable for the area.
There, the crew turned the steam engine on the turntable. We did not stay to watch all of that, as we took time to enjoy a delicious lunch at the nearby restaurant.
|this is the diesel engine that helped out, now at the back of the train,|
since No.734 had been moved to the front for the return trip.
Then it was time for the return trip. Dad and the hubster and I spent part of it riding in the open mail car section of the train, which gave us a bit of a different perspective, as well as the chance to enjoy the wind in our faces . . . and even some cinders in our hair!
I hope we'll be able to ride the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad again sometime, perhaps earlier next fall when the colors are more vivid, or at another time of year to enjoy different views.
Because this post features Autumn Colors, I'm linking it to the newest edition of Blogging Through the Alphabet, hosted by Cristi at Through the Calm and Through the Storm and Meg at Adventures with Jude. This week participating bloggers are featuring the letter A. Join us and see what others are sharing!
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