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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. The locomotive is nicknamed Mountain Thunder.
It was announced that 734 would be removed from service indefinitely following the 2015 excursion season. The locomotive is due for a major federally mandated overhaul.
No. 734 pulled one last winter photographer’s freight train on January 11th, 2015. The special excursion ran over the entire railroad. In Winter Thunder 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. We make many photo stops along the way!
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. Our own Mike Armstrong and Daniel Cortopassi were the only photographers along for the ride. The footage they obtained for Winter Thunder is not available anywhere else.
With so few people we were able to get on and off the train quickly. We made more photo stops than are normally possible on this type of excursion. The cold winter air made for spectacular steam. The snowy scenery was magnificent. The sun was out for most of the day. This was truly a magical ride.
Come along with us as we experience Western Maryland Steam!