C&O Restoration Could Run WMSR Out of Business

The head of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is warning that the cost of restoring Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 might drive the railroad out of business.

“I’m a realist,” said General Manager John Garner. “At some point in time, we are going to run out of money. We’re looking to be able to finish the locomotive, but there’s that chance we’re going to be hung up on something else.”

That could be an unexpected and expensive repair such as the one that workers discovered last month. Corrosion on the axle boxes of the 2-6-6-2 Baldwin will mean that the axles will have to be sent to a contractor to be machined at a cost of $200,000.

That work is also expected to delay by two or three months the date when the locomotive can be steamed up and sent on a test run.

To bolster its cash flow, the WMSR has revived the WMSR Foundation to collect donations.

The foundation had been dormant for two years and links on its website for donations did not work.

“At some point in time we’re going to have to get the word out that our systems are up and functioning, and our foundation is respectable now,” Garner said. “I’ve been telling my friends, if you really love and want to support the Western Maryland, the best thing you can do is to buy a ticket.”

He was referring in part to a planned shop tour on Aug. 12. Tickets are available for $40.49 and can be purchased from the railroad’s website.

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