Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers standard train excursions, theme rides, and distinctive trains to visitors. It is approximately two hours away from both Silver Spring and Bethesda making it a perfect day-trip opportunity. The 1920s station edges on the southern border of Pennsylvania, making it accessible from a host of popular points. This prime tourist spot is also close to several state parks, wildlife areas, and forests including Savage River State Forest, Warrior Mountain State Wildlife Park, and Green Ridge State Forest. Amid so many scenic and exciting areas filled with outdoor activity, doors open to camping trips, fishing tours, and general outdoor fun, or look up a private cabin rental and stay for awhile.
The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad train rides head from the Cumberland Train depot for an almost four-hour excursion to Frostburg, where there is a lengthy layover making time for dining and exploring. The Allegheny Mountains are the shining star on this cross-country adventure. During train rides aboard the scenic railroad, passengers learn about the history, culture, and landscape of the Allegheny Mountains.
Between May and December, diesel and steam trains traverse a 33-mile round-trip between Cumberland, Maryland, and Frostburg through an alpine valley byway. The byway passes through the Cumberland Narrows, a natural water gap carved into the mountains over the years and exhibiting steep and narrow passages filled with craggy rocks and cliffs. The train also passes through Brush Tunnel, a curved and gaping cavern, and half-mile Helmstetter’s Curve traversing verdant Cash Valley. Rising more than 1000-feet and revealing picture-perfect vistas, this three-and-a-half hour journey offered by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is one of the best scenic attractions in the state.
The mountains host thousands of annual visitors taking the chance to explore the striking area as they go hiking, camping, cycling, and wildlife viewing. Lakes, amusement parks, celebrated local dining, museums, historical landmarks, and plenty of culture are only some of the mountain features drawing visitors in. Scenic and definitely memorable, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad runs train tours through this revered landscape, touching on the best of Maryland.
During open-season, trains depart daily at 11:30 a.m. from Cumberland. Specific dates and times are available through the train schedule. Anyone with a hankering for riding a diesel train should note they are only used during May to August and again October, the busiest time of the year for the railroad. Even in slower season, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad excursions can easily sell all seats out. Reservations aren’t necessary outside of the fall season, but to avoid disappointment they are recommended. Popular Murder Mystery Tours are available during weekends only and those trips do require advanced reservations.
There are a few special events offered by the scenic railroad including December’s Santa Express, beginning the weekend of Thanksgiving and running right up to the week before Christmas. The Great Allegheny Passage is such a popular cycling spot that the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad allows cyclists to transport bikes onboard, for a nominal fee, on route to the 400-mile walking and cycling trail.
Don’t miss the many things to at the vintage Western Maryland Station at Canal Place. Nature brims along the hiking and cycling C&O Canal Path inside C&O Canal National Historical Park. Canal Place Heritage Area presents many outdoor activities; canal tours, local festivals, cycling, and the scenic rail trips via Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Other notable attractions include George Washington’s single-room cabin and Queen City Transportation Museum.
Image: Matthew Malkiewicz Photography