It was a crisp and overcast January morning as this antique steam train left her yard and shops to cross over the partly frozen Potomac River and chuff into the station at Cumberland, Maryland. Black and white smoke and steam curling high overhead tells the air temperature and her speed as she pulls a string of vintage freight cars the first half mile of the trip. Today’s working day for this old timer would last until dark with many run-bys during a photographer’s special going up the mountain in the cold with no sunlight.
The day was gray with pervasive damp that works it way into your bones along with the penetrating cold, but it was that same winter air that made for impressive smoke and steam clouds. The chill and cold feet were worth going through to get shots showing the way heavy freight was pushed over these mountains over a hundred years ago by the will of man and machine. Not only is seeing this locomotive in action fun, but the full experience of smelling burning coal and having the cinders hit your skin while the sharp whistle screams warnings at the crossings is a deep one. It’s easy to be transported by this time machine, and imagination is truly it’s modern day freight.
The Western Maryland is long gone as a fallen flag railroad, but lives on in this tourist version as the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad with heritage steam as the focus. You can take a beautiful mountain ride on this train and get tickets by visiting https://www.wmsr.com/