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Steam Engine Debut Postponed Due To Track Repairs

June 17th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

Ridership is down and another missed start-up date for the debut of the refurbished steam engine is making for a rough start to the summer season for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Railroad general manager John Garner informed the Allegany County Commissioners last week that the planned July 4th holiday weekend start is now postponed. Efforts to restore the Baldwin Steam Engine No. 1309 have been ongoing for five years- but the latest setback centers on the need to repair the track. While the lack of a steam engine hasn’t had a negative impact on ridership in recent years- there has been a hit so far this season according to Garner…


The latest projected debut- “late July”. Although any number of announced dates for the steam engine have been missed- County Commissioner David Caporale said he is optimistic that late July target is realistic…


While most officials publicly are presenting an optimistic front- privately some have told WCBC News that have serious doubts as to whether the steam engine will be up and running by the end of the year- let alone next month. In a related story, the performance audit of the scenic railroad that county officials commissioned last year- has been completed and will be made public soon according to Commissioner Jake Shade.

9 comments on this post.
  1. mac:

    I’m looking forward to the day when I can walk out of the Dig Deep Brewery, in the Footer building, and walk across the street to see Thor’s Hammer, or Puff the Magic Dragon, or whatever it’s called pull away from the station.
    I’m not saying that it will ever happen but I look forward to it anyway.
    As far as the performance audit is concerned, the railroad is performing just as it has for many years now spending every dollar it makes and then poor mouthing to the county and cities at each end of the track for even more money.
    When will the lunacy end?

  2. mac:

    I can’t remember any dates but I thought the County had agreed, some years ago, that the subsidies to the railroad were ending and that it was sink or swim from that time on.
    That doesn’t appear to be the case any more.
    The railroad may have been a noble idea when it started but it has never been a financially viable operation and it never will be.
    Why not unload the rebuilt monster engine and use those monies on the original steam locomotive and maintaining their own right of way?
    I won’t say that this operation is mismanaged as I’m not sure there is any real management at all. MAYBE we will know more when the performance audit is made public. MAYBE!

  3. kevin:

    Mac – yes! Exactly right. This however is what happens to a tourist based economy.

  4. Ed Dodrill:

    Changes need to be made or this will go on! False advertising is no way to run a railroad!

  5. mac:

    My concern is the public money used to support those restaurants and/or hotels that might benefit from the tourists. The net gain to the local economy , as a whole, is not there. Yes, I know these are all local employers but these same employers have made it known that they are against raising the minimum wage to benefit those most in need, those at the bottom of the earnings ladder.
    Governmental monies, (yours and mine) are squandered to benefit a very small segment of the local population. All in the name of tourism.

  6. kevin:

    > Thank you!!! For decades we have pursued tourism because it is the easy dollar, but it is also the most fragile dollar and doesn’t grow much locally – everything is geared to the lowest wage, to keep people inching along but unable to rise. This has been true for decades.

  7. kevin:

    > It is the only way this railroad has ever run.

  8. mac:

    > No tourist comes to town and then, after riding on the train, thinks he needs to update his auto insurance, or shops for a weeks worth of groceries, or decides to get that dented bumper repaired at the body shop. None of these businesses benefit from tourism. None of those people benefit. They just pay their taxes of which a portion goes to the railroad. The railroad takes buts gives nothing in return to the vast majority who live and work here.

  9. Niall Jenkins:

    It truly is unfortunate that the planned repairs for the railroad have been going on as long as five years. My younger brother has been presently undergoing a similar predicament, where he wants to have a railroad track repaired in his town, but does not know who to call to do so. I’ll look into contacting an official service provider for help.

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