Posts Tagged ‘Western Maryland 734’

WMSR to Evaluate Overhauling 2-9-0 No. 734

March 8, 2022

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is eying a return to service of 2-8-0 No. 734.

Railfan & Railroad magazine reported on its website that the tourist railroad is raising money to pay for an evaluation of whether the Consolidation type locomotive could resume operating.

Built in 1916 for the Lake Superior & Ishpeming, it arrived on the WMSR in the early 1990s and operated for more than two decades.

WMSR officials told R&R that the 734 needs an overhaul from “the railhead to the stack” and work will progress as funding allows.

Evaluation of the locomotive is expected to get underway this spring.

In the meantime, former Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 will be pulling excursions on the WMSR this year on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between May and October.

The 1309 will also be the center of attention for several photo freight charters this year and in early 2023.

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Rebuilding WMSR 734 Seen as Years Away

April 24, 2021

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad said it plans to stabilize and evaluate its 2-8-0 steam locomotive No. 734, but has no plans to resume operations with it.

 “Our new mechanical team has found accounts and inspection forms that indicate the locomotive was performing well below peak efficiency during her final years in service,” officials said.

“The locomotive was often pushed far beyond its normal operating capabilities, which has resulted in extreme wear and tear of many key components, particularly the running gear.”

WMSR forces have in the past couple years been focused largely on restoring former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309, which was steamed up earlier this year and is expected to begin revenue service this summer.

No. 734 is a “Consolidation” type built by Baldwin in 1916 for the Lake Superior & Ishpeming as No. 18 and later had roster number 34.

It was retired by the LS&I in the early 1960s and ran on another tourist railroad and sat on static display at Illinois Railway Museum.

WMSR restored the 734 in the early 1990s and it was featured in many photo charters over the years. The locomotive last operated in 2016.

WMSR officials said the 734 is in extremely worn mechanical condition and will need a lengthy and expensive overhaul.

“If undertaken, it would also mean a significant investment in a locomotive that no longer meets the daily needs of the railroad, though this does not remove the possibility of 734 operating on the lighter, off-season trains and as stand-by power for 1309,” officials said.

The officials said the WMSR cannot commit to rebuilding the 734 until it determine the cost and scope of the needed work.

They indicated that review would not be completed until after the 2021 operating season and is likely to require a fundraising campaign.

Nonetheless WMSR officials expect that it will be a few years before overhaul work on the 734 begins in earnest.

The railroad plans to resume operations on May 29 after being shut down since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steam Saturday: A Good WMSR Outing

December 19, 2020

Of all of the fall photo specials I’ve ridden on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, the sun and colors were top notch on the October 18, 1999, Carl Franz photo special.

The top image is the same angle on the Helmstetter’s farm we did earlier that year in June.

Photos two through five are the carefully sequences arranged at Brush Tunnel. Photos six through eight were made back at Helmstetter’s Curve in the afternoon.

In Photo eight, you can see the shadows of part of the photo line. Jeff Troutman and myself are two of those figures.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Steam Saturday: WMSR Memories

December 5, 2020

The inside of Helmstetter’s Curve on the Helmstetter’s farm.

Over the years from 1989 to 2010, I visited the Western Maryland Scenic Railway at least 10 times with family and friends.

On six of those trips I was on Carl Franz photo specials. The visits were a variety of spring, summer and fall events.

The weather conditions were a combination of great, fair and lousy. I will highlight the best in four installments.

This report is the June 6, 1999 special I attended with Dave McKay and Marty Surdyk. The second in a couple of weeks will be the Oct. 18, 1999, fall special I attended with Jeff Troutman. Early next year I’ll continue with the best of the rest, then finally my favorite night photography photos.

All of thse images were made in 16 miles between Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Out on the line at a location known by the photographers as the gravel pile.

Different angles on the outside of Helmstetter’s Curve.

At the station in Cumberland, Maryland.

Dave McKay and Marty Surdyk

WM No. 734 to Host Photo Freights

March 1, 2016

West Maryland 2-8-0 No. 734 will pull a series of photo freight excursions on April 2 and 9 before it is removed from service for an inspection and rebuilding.

Western Maryland ScenicTickets for the photo freights are $180 apiece or $220 with lunch included.

The excursions will depart Cumberland, Maryland, at 8 a.m. on each day and run the length of the line to Frostburg, Maryland.

The train is expected to return to Cumberland at 5 p.m.

WMS personnel will wear 1950s period clothing and several photo runbys will be featured at locations not used in recent years.

No. 734 is a 100-year-old steam locomotive that is due for its 1,472-day inspection.

Restoration Work Progressing on C&O Steamer

March 8, 2015

The restoration by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is reported to be progressing with workers having completed major disassembly of the locomotive and having lifting the cab from the boiler to conduct a detailed inspection and additional engineering work.

The work has also included removal of the superheaters, 241 tubes, and 36 flues from the inside of the boiler.

Workers are currently cleaning all surfaces of the boiler shell in anticipation of ultrasonic testing this spring.

Once those tests are done, new tubes and flues will be installed that will transform the boiler into nearly “as-new” condition. Assembly of the parts of the H6 Class locomotive will begin this spring,

This summer workers will be inspect several hundred staybolts and the firebox while machinists are working on manufacturing running gear parts and rehabilitating valves.

In related news, the WMS 2-8-0, No. 734 is receiving maintenance in the main shop building in preparation for the 2015 operating season.

The locomotive is receiving work on its boiler, rod bearings and valve gear rebuild.

“I am very pleased with the progress so far. We haven’t found anything significant, just ordinary wear and tear,” said General Superintendent Mike Gresham. “The 1309 is in excellent overall condition, and we expect to have it back in action for the 2016 season.”

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Beautiful Day for Steam on Wild Mary Scenic

October 27, 2014


Coming around the famous Helmstetter's Curve.

First of two images showing the train coming around the famous Helmstetter’s Curve.


With the perfect fall weather that we had on Saturday, I drove to Cumberland, Md., to catch one of the last runs of Western Maryland No. 734 before its mandatory rebuild.

For a scenic railroad, there aren’t very many places to catch the train. Unlike the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad where Riverview Road parallels much of the route and there are many accessible points, there are just a few on the way to Frostburg on the WM.

We set up at Helmstetter’s Curve, a famous horseshoe curve like nearby Mance, Pa., on the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline or the big one near Altoona. Just as in the steam era this is a good place for photos.

The other area, ironically, is past the yards at Ridgeley. W.Va. Passengers don’t get to ride this trackage but it’s necessary to turn the locomotive.  For the creative railfan, this turning operation can yield some interesting photos.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon