End of a journey – and the start of another
Sometimes on a long journey, it’s impossible to know just how far you’ve come until you’re almost at the end. And the long adventure of breathing life back into Western Maryland steam locomotive no. 1309 is nearing an important conclusion.
Several years ago, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad undertook this massive endeavor with the goal to expand both the allure and the capacity our popular scenic trains. Since then, we and our contractors at Diversified Rail Services have almost completely rebuilt this historic machine. In the meantime, the railroad has made steady progress on performing critical and ongoing maintenance to our railroad line, undertaken an extensive marketing and operations audit, hosted our very first Polar Express trains, and worked with partners like Trains Magazine to prepare the railroad for its future.
As of this writing, work on engine 1309 is nearly 95% complete and we have just received a generous grant from the Emery Rail Heritage Trust for $50,000. The locomotive is being reassembled and has recently undergone another test fire in preparation for a return to service later this year. We invite you to visit a comprehensive list of everything done to 1309 to return it to service at wmsr.com/1309.
As we prepare to re-open our railroad and welcome 1309 to our roster, the railroad has also endured an extended closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, we’ve postponed our operating season until later this year, furloughed employees, and have reduced every conceivable operating cost. Thanks to supporters like you, we’ve been able to focus on readying our newly acquired rail diesel car equipment, continued work on restoring and maintaining our passenger cars, have welcomed several privately owned cars to the fleet, and have also overhauled our website with a focus towards promoting events, streamlining ticket sales, and improving the customer experience.
Despite these uncertain times, we’ve made incredible progress – but we need your help to keep the Scenic ready for the remainder of 2020 and beyond. As we prepare to open, we need to raise $100,000 to complete 1309. While the locomotive itself won’t be a “magic bullet” for the Scenic, it will undoubtedly raise the railroad’s profile, welcome thousands of guests and visitors to Cumberland, and give our region a welcome boost. In 2021, we’ll be prepared to turn a new page on the Scenic, and you can be a part of it with your donation today.
You can quickly and easily donate online at wmsr.com/1309. Your donation will be immediately applied to complete 1309’s restoration. You can also donate via mail by at 1309 Restoration, PO Box 1168, Cumberland, Maryland, 21503.
We thank you for your kindness and consideration – and we can’t wait to see you aboard the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.
John C. Garner,
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad