Work resumes on Western Maryland Scenic No. 1309

Funding from Trains Magazine appeal passes $100,000 mark
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1309BoggsAug2019
Work has resumed on Western Maryland Scenic No. 1309.
Tishia Boggs

CUMBERLAND, Md. – Restoration work has resumed on Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 after Trains magazine readers donated more than $100,000 to the effort to restore the last steam locomotive that Baldwin built for domestic service.

Diversified Rail Services crews began work Monday to prepare the giant Mallet for the last major step in its multi-year restoration, the long-awaited day in June when a crane company will set the boiler onto the two sets of drivers at the shop in Ridgeley, W.Va.

The resumption of work took place only days after the Trains Magazine fundraising effort, launched in early February, passed the $100,000 mark. As of Monday, the total that has been raised was $103,267, including three leadership grants of $25,000, $10,000, and $5,000. The John Emery Rail Heritage Trust, which has donated a total of $50,000 to the project in 2019 and 2020, was among the leadership grants instrumental in getting the project back to work after funding was exhausted and work stopped at the end of August 2019.

“All of the rest of the money came from individuals who donated $25, $100, and other amounts large and small, and for all of these donations, we are grateful,” says John Garner, executive director of the Western Maryland Scenic. “They all add up to success.”

Trains Editor Jim Wrinn says readers have done an amazing job with their gifts, and he announced that the magazine will continue to support the project in order to raise another $100,000 toward completion of the 1949 locomotive that was built for the Chesapeake & Ohio. “I want to applaud everyone who has stepped up to help with their contributions, and to make this steam dream a reality,” he says. “We have come a long way in three months, work has resumed, and we’re about to reach a major milestone with the rewheeling. Now is not the time to stop. We will continue. We will not stop until the task is done.”

When work ended last summer, the locomotive was more than 85% complete mechanically. As of Tuesday, of $2.8 million spent on the engine so far, another $180,000 is needed to complete the locomotive. An additional $100,000 will be needed to pay for water, coal, and ash removal facilities.

Built in 1949, No. 1309 operated until 1956, and its return to service at Western Maryland Scenic is seen as a breakthrough for the tourist railroad that carries forward the soul of the original Western Maryland Railway across 17 miles of mountain railroad, including world famous Helmstetter’s Curve.

No. 1309 was steam tested twice in fall 2018. It was acquired from the B&O Railroad Museum in 2014, but funding issues and an employee’s theft of expensive machined parts set back the project. The railroad has since increased security.

In operation, No. 1309 will be the only articulated in regular operation in the Eastern U.S., and the world’s largest operating compound Mallet — that is, a locomotive that uses its steam twice to drive two sets of cylinders [Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 is a simple articulated]. The engine will operate on a regular basis and also will be available for photo freights chartered by Trains magazine. Trains also plans to cover the restoration in print and with an exclusive DVD.

To help, send your donation marked for 1309 to Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, 13 Canal Street, Cumberland, MD 21502, or you can donate online at www.wmsr.com/1309.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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