Thursday 19 November 2015

October Railfan Trip - Part 4

Upon arrival at Cumberland WM 734 was coupled to her train and the crew was taking water. 501 was a massive 2-8-0 with a very large tender used in the coal regions on the WM.

Chasing Steam In Don Janes

     Sat. Oct.10 was the day that I was most looking forward to on this October railfan trip.  We would be heading to Cumberland, Maryland to photograph Western Maryland Scenic RR steam locomotive 734, an ex Western Maryland 2-8-0.  The WMSRR runs over a portion of the old Cumberland to Pittsburgh WM mainline to the town of Frostburg, the rest of the line being torn up years ago. WM  734 would be running from Cumberland to Frostburg on her last trip of the season and after that would be in the shop for quite some time for a major overhaul.  We has spent the first part of the morning taking photos at the Foley Overlook on the CSX Keystone Line (with a lot more success than we had two days earlier) and then headed to Cumberland to see 734 at the depot before her departure.  The engine was already coupled to the train when we arrived so we got a few shots of her before heading out to Helmstetter's Curve where we would get out first shots of her in action.  The train was quite long and the platform was beginning to fill with people that were getting ready to board the train.
The crew was taking water and must have been discussing the day's trip.
A front view of 734 as she sat at the Cumberland station.
Among the crowd were a group of Mennonite people who were checking out 734 before boarding the train.
     Just as were heading back to the parking lot we heard a diesel horn and turned to see WM  501, a GP30 heading into the station with the train from an earlier run to Frostburg. This was a bonus as we weren't expecting to see this train.  It turned out that the steam train was so heavy that the 501 would be used as a pusher out of Cumberland.
WM 501 was just arriving as we headed to the parking lot. 
     Once the 501 passed we hopped into the car and headed out to Helmststter's Curve, just outside of Cumberland.  I found a spot on a hill in a cemetery and marked my ground and waited for 734 to arrive.  Finally the distinct barking exhaust of a hard working steam locomotive filled the air and then a plume of smoke over the trees announced 734's arrival.  Considering the grade and size of the train she was really moving along.  The weather was perfect and the fall colours were about at their peak.  After firing off about 20 shots we headed to Frostburg to catch 723 at the depot.
WM 723 stormed past my spot as she rounded Helmstetter's Curve
As you can see the train was quite long and GP30 #501 was on the rear pushing hard.
Two young ladies stopped to watch WM 734 thunder past on the beautiful October afternoon.
Upon arrival at Frostburg we scouted out the station for a good photo location.  To my surprise there were very few photographers around waiting for the train and we found an excellent spot just before the depot.  The lighting was perfect and nobody to get in our way.  A photographer's dream.  Once the train stopped and detrained passengers it was chaos.  Hundreds of sightseers headed for downtown during their 2 hour layover.  At the other end of the station 734 uncoupled from her train and headed for the turntable.  Once turned she headed back to the other end, out of sight for photographs.  It was a great time chasing the steam train but there was lots of sunshine and daylight left so we headed back to Mance Post Office for one final photo session there
Lots of people stuck around the station to watch 734 take a spin on the turntable.  This photo was taken from a high stairway overlooking the turntable.

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