The Western Maryland 734

WM No. 734 Rounding Helmstetter's Curve by Fred Moskey

I arrived at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s Cumberland, MD station on Friday the 9th of October. I got there in plenty of time for the 11:30 departure. I met one of their employees in the parking lot and he told me of a good location for photographs as the train pulled into the station. The first thing I had t o do was check in at the ticket counter for my cab ride in the locomotive. I was issued goggles and gloves as well as a set of earplugs.

I still had about an hour to check things out before the train pulled into the station. I was able to take some photos of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and scenes around the station.

The train was a few minutes late arriving at the station but I got some good shots as it crossed the bridge and pulled into the station. The fireman pulled the waterspout over to the tender and filled the reservoir with water as passengers boarded the train.

 

I introduced myself to the train crew and climbed aboard the engine along with a lady who was the other “cab rider”. She selected the spot behind the fireman’s seat to stand and I found a place back on the lip of the coal tender to sit. I was able to take a few photos before the train departed but once under way I was bouncing around too much to take any photos. It was a real thrill to be riding on a steam engine again. It had been 60 years since I had ridden on one of the C&O’s 2700’s with my uncle at the throttle.

When we arrived at Frostburg the engine was disconnected from the train and we pulled onto the turntable. Once turned, we proceeded around the train and backed onto the diesel pusher that was on the rear of the train. The crew took a lunch break as we waited for the air pumps to fill the air reservoir. The fireman tended to his fire and shook the grates on the firebox.

We had an uneventful ride back to Cumberland just ahead of a rainstorm. As I climbed down from the engine the sky opened up and I got soaked before I could make it back inside the station.

On Saturday morning I drove to Helmstettlers Curve to take some photos from outside the train. It was a beautiful day and the fall color was in all its glory. I got my photos as the train passed on the way to Frostburg. It was on to Frostburg from there. I got more photos as the train arrived at the Frostburg Depot. Again the engine was detached from the train and pulled onto the turntable. I was able to take more photos as the smoke poured from the stack and settled around the turntable.

 

This was an outstanding trip on a fall weekend. I would recommend this trip to anyone interested in the old steam railroad trains or just riding in a coach enjoying the passing fall color. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has both steam and diesel passenger runs between Cumberland and Frostburg. Next year they will have an old Chesapeake & Ohio mallet type engine purchased from the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. The 734 will be down for a couple of years for an inspection and repair. This is a great place for rail fans!