Day 1: July 1, 2006
Mostly On Track



I had until 11:00 to make the train in Cumberland so I used the morning to check out some items that I knew were near by. I started off with the ark shaped building that Pastor Richard Greene's congregation started back in 1974. The first photo is from I-68 before I figured out how to get to the "shipyard" on Cherry Lane. Looks like a set of Coffindaffer crosses on the highway side.

Modern equivalents of Noah's original dimensions are being used and the structure is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. I'm not an expert but that doesn't really look like thirty-two years of construction to me.

I had time to photograph two Mason-Dixon Line markers. Neither is original but both are slightly older than I am. The first three pictures are where MD-47 turns into PA-160. Some time back, Pennsylvania put up a pretty fancy marker on their side of the line. Maryland's version is a bit more modern. In the full sized version of the picture of the Maryland signs, the 1908 Mason-Dixon marker can be seen just a few feet from the edge of the parking lot entrance. The remaining pictures are of the much safer 1902 stone in Ellerslie. Crown stones were originally placed every five miles and the crown on the side of this replacement may indicate that it is where a crown stone once stood but I don't know that.

I made it to the train station in plenty of time to pick up my ticket and look things over while waiting for the train. I had ordered my ticket online and was surprised to see that the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad took advantage of this to do a little personalization.

The train's whistle let us know it was coming well before we saw it. At the station it spent a goodly amount of time taking on water. I heard 10,000 mentioned but don't know if that's an official number. On board, I did learn that the trip consumed about 3 tons of coal and I imagine that that much coal could turn a lot of water into steam.

Getting to Frostburg involved a lot of up hill travel and Mountain Thunder, the engine, was working hard much of the way. Mountain Thunder was built in 1916 and worked in Michigan's upper peninsula until 1956. WMSR acquired the engine in 1992 and put it in service in 1993.

Burning lots of coal makes lots of smoke and soot and other fairly unpleasant things so that keeping one's face outside the car is not recommended. One result is few pictures on the outbound trip.

In Frostburg, Mountain Thunder is turned around so it can pull the train back to Cumberland. Pretty cool watching the big turntable make this happen.

The uphill travel doesn't end at the station. You can get a shuttle for two bucks but I walked to town secure in the knowledge that it would be all down hill coming back. The town's name comes from Meshach & Catherine Frost who built the first house here. They eventually ran a tavern named Highland Hall and Meshach served as the town's first postmaster. That pillar in front of St. Michael's Church marks their graves. The church, a rectory, school, and convent now sit on the former tavern site.

I grabbed a stool at the counter to try some pie at the Princess Restaurant. The Princess has been run by the same family since 1939. I didn't know or didn't remember that they are known for their coconut cream pie and went for the apple. I may try the coconut on the way back west but I sure don't regret having the apple. Across the street the Hotel Gunter looks just the way a hotel should on a Fourth of July weekend. I stopped briefly at the Draft Zone (twenty+ taps & a knowledgeable bartender) before descending the steps to the train. The Thrasher Carriage Museum right next to the train station looked interesting but I just ran out of time.

The smoke wasn't nearly as bad going down hill and I did manage some pictures. Notice that the caboose is now immediately behind the engine tender. On the way up, all doors were closed and no one was allowed in any of the open spaces when we passed through Bush Tunnel. All that smoke in the enclosed space would have been especially nasty. Not so on the return trip and I caught a clear view of Helmstedder's farm, too. That's Will's Creek on our left as we pull into Cumberland. Lots of concrete has been used to tame the creek and make it look like a canal.

I did a little "walk about" back at the station and crossed the foot bridge over Will's Creek to the relocated cabin that George Washington once used as his headquarters. The sign in the center of the headquarters photo claims to mark the start of the National Road. I had expected something more substantial.

The church at the top of the hill is on th original site of Fort Cumberland and George's headquarters.

A C & O Canal museum is in the lower floor of the train station. The 'C' stood for Chesapeake and they got that part covered; Started there, in fact. But us Ohioans are still waiting for the C & O to reach our state. Cumberland is as far as it got. There are some shops nearby but I found the former Footer's Dye Works more interesting.

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