maryland historic railroads
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DESCRIPTIONThis article covers many of Maryland's historic railroads and scenic rail journeys across the state
In a world dominated by advancedtechnology and gas-guzzling ma-chines, it is difficult to remembera time when locomotives were the pri-mary means of transportation. A timewhen depots bustled with passengersboarding and disembarking from thetrain as it billowed steam from thesmokestack. A time when trains werethe gateway to the West.
Those humble days are long gone,but the memories linger in Marylandlike a train whistle in the distance. Thestate is home to some of the most fa-mous railroad lines and locomotive mu-seums in the country. It was Baltimorebusinessmen who were behind the cre-ation of the Baltimore & Ohio Rail-road, Americas first common carrier
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on location: northeast vanessa day
Walkersville Southern Railroad passengers enjoy a blast from the past.
Train museums and scenic excursionsspotlight the states industrial heritage
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
excursions through the mountains
go from Cumberland to Frostburg.
LeisureGroupTravel.com June 2010 23
and pioneer of the Western Frontier;the Western Maryland Railway carriedAbraham Lincoln to Pennsylvania todeliver his Gettysburg Address; and thebirthplace of American railroading, theBaltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum,houses the largest collection of railroadartifacts in the nation.Groups touring Maryland get a
glimpse of the past through locomotives,milestones in our industrial history. The
best place to absorb the tradition ofMarylands railroads is at the Baltimore& Ohio Railroad Museum. Known forits extensive collection of 19th centurylocomotives, the museum has become amust-see attraction in Baltimore. Notonly does the museum collect and pre-serve thousands of railroad artifacts forguests to peruse, but also displays scalemodels and toys to convey the fascina-
tion people have had with trains throughthe years. Apart from the compelling ex-hibits, the museum also features opera-ble replicas of historic steamers.Children and adults alike can climbaboard and enjoy a ride down the firstcommercial railroad track in America.Train rides are offered Wednesday toSunday, April through December.The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
Museum hosts events throughout the
year for tourists and locals to enjoy. Oneof the most loved celebrations is Rail-fest Steam Days (Oct. 16-17), whererare steam engines travel along the firstmile of track that was laid down in1827. Spectators can ride behind themuseums famous locomotive, the #4 St.Elizabeth, built in 1950 to transportcoal for the U.S. Governments St. Eliz-abeth Hospital. (borail.org)
Maryland brims with old train de-pots and stations, dotted throughout thestate. Most of these stations have beentransformed into small museums. Vis-iting these relics is perfect for touristslooking to explore more of Marylandscountryside while simultaneously tak-ing in railroad history. Ellicott CityStation, located on the Old Main Lineof the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, issaid to be the oldest existing railroad
station in America. Here, guests can seethe original depot building, dating from1830, as well as the freight house and areplica of the first horse-drawn rail car.(ecborail.org)
Bowie Railroad Station was builtin 1910 and now houses not only railexhibits, but also an interlocking switchtower, waiting shed and caboose.(www.cityofbowie.org/museums). On
Riders on the Walkersville Southern Railroad, just north of Frederick, Md., can ride in a vintage 1920s passenger car or open flatcar.
the shores of Chesapeake Bay lies theChesapeake Beach Railway Museum,located in the original railways station.This rail line operated from 1900 to1935, shuttling vacationers to the resortsevery summer. The museum showcases arange of artifacts from rail ties and pho-tographs to authentic bathing suits andpostcards from the era. This railway sta-tion truly represents the beautiful land-scape and carefree lifestyle of theChesapeake area. (cbrm.org). Gaithers-burg Community Museum is yet an-other attraction in a restored Baltimore& Ohio railroad station. The museumholds both a permanent collection of ar-tifacts and rotating historical exhibits.Outside the building sits a 1918 BuffaloCreek & Gauley steam locomotive and abay window caboose. (gaithersburgmd.gov/museum)
While railroads reigned in the worldof cross-country transportation, trolley
cars became promi-nent features in bigcities. The Districtof Columbia had re-lied heavily on trol-leys to get around,but streetcar serviceended in the late1950s. The NationalCapital Trolley Mu-seum was foundedsoon after in 1959and opened its doorsto the public in 1969in MontgomeryCounty, Maryland.The museum housescollections from allover the country andthe world, bringingin cars from severalEuropean cities. Lastyear the museumpresented its multi-million-dollar visitor
center, car barn and demonstration railway,providing visitors with access to its im-pressive collection of 14 street cars. Nowguests can take 20-minute rides aboardboth American and European streetcarson the mile-long demonstration railway.The new expansion offers guests morehands-on exhibits, but it is also visuallystimulating, with architecture inspired byelectric railway buildings in Washington.(dctrolley.org)
Clearly there is plenty of railroad his-tory in Maryland for groups to see, but atrue railroad experience involves morethan just looking. Riding on a scenic rail-
road gives passengers a chance to travelback in time to the glory days of rail-roading. Maryland offers a few scenictours worthy of a ride.
As part of the Pennsylvania RailroadFrederick Secondary, the railway betweenWalkersville and Frederick was con-structed in 1869, a couple years after theend of the Civil War. For years, dairyfarms thrived along the line, sending milkand eggs to the markets. But in the early1970s the railroad fell on hard times,forcing it to close and be put up for sale.The State of Maryland purchased thestretch within its borders from Walk-
on location: northeast
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A train robber holds up Marylands
Walkersville Southern Railroad on its
run through the Maryland countryside.
ersville to Frederick. Now it operates asWalkersville Southern Railroad, ascenic eight-mile trip through woodsand farmland. The railroad offers regu-lar excursions where passengers havethe choice of riding in an open-air car,a refurbished coach car or the caboose.On top of these standard trips, Walk-ersville Southern includes mystery din-ner trains, holiday trains and JesseJames robberies. In 2009, Marylandgranted the railroad access to threemore miles of track north of the currentstation, and Walkersville Southern hasalready started to build and upgrade thetrack so it can begin service on the newrails. (wsrr.org)
Journeying through the mountainsof Maryland is best done on railroadtracks. The Western Maryland ScenicRailroad makes a 32-mile trip fromCumberland to Frostburg, taking pas-sengers through an idyllic landscape inthe Allegheny Mountains. The railroadoperates two trains: a 1916 Baldwinsteam locomotive or a vintage dieselengine. Either one will give groups anexperience they wont soon forget. Reg-ular excursions offer passengers seats inrestored coach cars or the option to
purchase first-class tickets, allowingthem to enjoy lunch in the dining car.After the train cuts through the Nar-rows, bounds around Helmstetters
Curve and plows into Brush Tunnel,it arrives at Frostburg Depot. Here,passengers enjoy a 90-minute breakwhere they can roam between shopsand restaurants, and they can witnessthe train changing directions on theturntable. While the regular excur-sion is enjoyable, some visitors mayopt for a murder mystery or specialtytrain instead. Trains run May to De-cember, but the fall months, particu-larly October, are most popular dueto the changing leaves. (wmsr.com)
With all the history and railroadmemorabilia, its hard not to feel nos-talgic when visiting Maryland. A va-cation to Maryland is certainly a tripthrough time, back to the days when
passenger trains chugged along irontracks, and the sounds of whistles filledthe air. It will have any visitor yellingall aboard! LGT
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Ride a vintage train at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore.