Posts Tagged ‘Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’

C&O 1309 to Begin Revenue Service By December

August 30, 2021

Former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is expected to debut in revenue service by mid December.

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad executive director Wesley Heinz said the tourist railroad is pushing as hard as it can to get the on the road and that it could debut sometime between now and Dec. 17.

The 1309 is expected to pull some Polar Express excursions in December.

Although most restoration work of the last Baldwin built for domestic rail operation remains to be done, some work remains to be completed.

The WMSR began operations on Aug. 26 after completing track rehabilitation that had been ordered by the Federal Railroad Administration.

WMSR Names New Executive Director

August 27, 2021

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has named Wesley Heinz as its executive director.

He replaces John Garner who stepped down from the position temporarily in June to attend to health and family concerns.

Heinz has been acting executive director in the interim. He previously was executive director at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum in Portland, Maine, and has a background in

Historic preservation, fundraising, and marketing.

His work has included serving on operating and restoration crews for numerous steam locomotives, including Western Maryland’s project to restore Cheasapeake & Ohio  2-6-6-2 No. 1309.

Testing of C&O 1309 Expected Soon

July 17, 2021

The former dome car Ocean View is how operating on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

Testing of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is expected to begin soon at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

The last Baldwin steam engine built for domestic use needed new firebrick for its firebox before testing can begin. Delivery of the firebrick has been delayed due to supply and labor shortages.

In the meantime, the WMSR has begun using in revenue service a full-length dome car built in 1955 for the Great Northern.

The Ocean View was Amtrak’s last dome car. The passenger carrier retired the car in 2019. It began operating on WMSR trains Cumberland and Frostburg earlier this month.

The car has been repainted into the red and while “circus” colors of the Western Maryland.

Also operating on the WMSR are an open-air car and privately owned cars Pacific Trail and Overland Trail.

Ocean View was purchased and renovated by a partnership between Rail Excursion Management and PAXRAIL.

It is believed to be the first dome car to use WM rails other than one or two documented detours of Baltimore & Ohio passenger trains..

WMSR Using Dome Car on Excursions

July 6, 2021

A former Amtrak done car has begun revenue service on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The car is former former Great Northern Railway full-length dome Ocean View.

It has been repainted and lettered  for the WMSR and will make regular runs between Cumberland and Frostburg, Maryland.

The car was built in 1955, one of six full length-domes built for GN and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy.

Amtrak acquired all six of the domes and assigned them to its Empire Builder between Chicago and Seattle until the domes were replaced with new Superliner Equipment in 1979.

In recent years, Amtrak’s last dome car on its active roster was used for special occasions on select trains, including the Adirondack and Downeaster.

Retired in 2018, Ocean View was offered for sale in 2019, eventually being purchased by Paxrail.

WMSR Resumes Excursions This Weekend

May 28, 2021

Excursions will resume this weekend on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

The 90-minute trips will be pulled by diesel locomotives and include a new open-air car and a dome car.

They will be the first excursions on the tourist railroad in more than a year with service having been suspended for most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trips are scheduled to depart on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. Capacity for each trip is limited to 250 people.

Excursions pulled by former Chesapeake & Ohio steam locomotive No. 1309 will be announced at a later date.

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.

Maryland County Assumes WMSR Track Maintenance

March 16, 2021

A Maryland County has agreed to assume responsibility for track maintenance of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

Allegany County will take on that duty in the wake of an order by the Federal Railroad Administration last month that 50,000 ties be replaced before the railroad can resume revenue service.

The heritage operation has been shut down since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FRA-manmdated work is expected to enable the WMSR to be classified as a Class 2 railroad.

That would enable passenger trains to operate at a top speed of 30 miles per hour.

County officials said they believe the tie work could be completed at a cost of $250,000, a much lower estimate than an earlier $2 million projection.

WMSR Must Repair Track Before it Can Operate

February 9, 2021

A Federal Railroad Administration inspection concluded the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad needs to repair its track.

The railroad needs to install 50,000 new ties at an estimated cost of $2 million.

“The defects must be repaired before we can run,” said railroad general manager John Garner.

Operations have been suspended at the Maryland-based tourist railroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It last operated in 2019.

Steam Saturday: Mixing it Up on the WMSR Steam Specials

January 23, 2021

This is the second in a series of posts about steam specials on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

During these photo specials, photo locations from previous charters had set ups and even train directions worked differently.

For example, Helmstetter’s Curve had been previously in mid to late afternoon on the outside of the curve from the hillside.

The top photograph was made in the morning on the inside of the curve on Mr. Helmstetter’s farm property with his permission on Oct. 20, 2003.

The next photography was made on Oct. 17, 2005, at the same location in the morning but with the train heading eastbound.

Photographers always respected the property because none of these photos would have been possible without Mr. Helmstetter’s generosity.

Also in 2005, was a runby site on the usual hillside at the curve in the afternoon.

At Brush tunnel the runby was done blasting out of the east portal.

After we made photographs at this location the train returned to Cumberland in late morning to turn No. 734 for the rest of the day facing west.

Photo five was made on Oct. 20, 2003, at Sunnyside. Photo six was made on Oct. 17, 2005 at Sunnyside.

The last image shows the train is now on the former Cumberland & Pennsylvania passing over the Western Maryland right of way.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

C&O 1309 Operates Under Own Power

January 4, 2021

Former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 moved on Dec. 31 under its own power on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

It was the first time the Mallet-type locomotive had done that in 64 years.

WMSR officials told Trains magazine that the 1309 is expected to regularly operate on the 17-mile tourist railroad but did not give a date for when it will begin revenue service.

Test runs of the locomotive will be made in the meantime.

Restoration of the locomotive has taken much longer and cost far more than expected. It has been a six-year process that has cost $3.5 million.

The 1309 was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1949 and was its last domestic steam locomotive product.

Once it begins regular service the 1309 will be the only articulated rod engine operating in the eastern United States and the region’s largest active steam engine.