Straightaway #13655

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The Story

On a cold January morning, this Western Maryland Scenic Railroad steam train pulls a string of vintage freight cars through the winter snow through The Narrows heading out of Cumberland MD. Fifteen degrees proved to be just right for shooting live steam railroading that day. As a result, billowing smoke and steam went high into the cold winter air. Here, the train moves along this thin shelf of roadbed between the immense Haystack Mountain on one side and Will’s Creek lying tight along the other. After this fairly level stretch through the Cumberland Narrows, the serious work of climbing the sixteen miles of uphill mountain pass to Frostburg Maryland is about to begin.

Being part of this special reenactment for photographers was almost like being there at the turn of the last century. Every moment was complete with all the sounds in the crisp air and the smell of working coal smoke. Standing trackside in the winter snow, it was a living deja vu to witness this old-time steam train, a true throwback in motion. If you look closely, there’s even an old caboose way back at the end of the train which is a true piece of bygone railroading.

There was a sequence of pictures taken at this location. To see more of this train passing through The Narrows, have a look at the vertical view Ghost Train #13013 taken here to see the drama of smoke and steam rising 200 feet above the snow into the cold winter air.

I spent all day gathering pictures of this old steam train with a group of antique railroading enthusiasts. It was a good day of shooting in even light despite the overcast and some cold feet and fingers by the end. Thankfully, many other good pictures of steam railroading came out of the day. For instance, the dynamic picture High Beam #13365 shows this train going into a tunnel with lots of smoke. I’ve also been at this railroad with a camera at other times of the year. Dawn Departure #13669 is an interesting summer shot taken at daybreak on the station platform in Cumberland, Maryland.

If you’re interested in visiting the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad yourself, follow the link for information and their schedule.

Location: Cumberland Narrows at Haystack Mountain outside Cumberland, Allegany County, Maryland. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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