Deep in Maryland’s Allegheny Mountains, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has been carrying on the tradition of old time steam railroading since the late 1980s. The railroad operates on a 17-mile segment of the former Western Maryland Railway. The line runs from Cumberland to Frostburg. Locomotive No. 734 is a 2-8-0 Consolidation. It was originally built for the Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad in Michigan. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad restored 734 in 1992. Since then it has pulled thousands of tourists through those mountains – and in so doing as earned the nickname “Mountain Thunder”.
However, with the locomotive due for a federally mandated overhaul, it was announced 734 would be removed from service indefinitely following the 2015 excursion season. 734 pulled one last winter “photographer’s freight” train on January 11th, 2015. The special excursion ran over the entire railroad. Our coverage begins in the railroad’s yard in Ridgeley, West Virginia. We watch as 734 steams up. (The crew had to do some extra work to free the locomotive from the frozen ground!) Then we follow the train from Cumberland to the end of the line in Frostburg and back.
Many famous locations along the Western Maryland are featured. We shot two run-bys on Helmstetter’s curve. Brush Tunnel and the Narrows were just two of many other photogenic locations. This was a privately chartered excursion that was not open to the public. The TSG crew were the only photographers along for the ride.