Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scenic Ride on Bike and Locomotive

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Scenic Ride on Bike and Locomotive

Article excerpt

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad invites bicyclists to enjoy both by riding its passenger train from Cumberland to Frostburg and then returning to Cumberland along the Great Allegheny Passage.

"Let Mountain Thunder do the work," the railroad says on its website, referring to the vintage steam locomotives that huffs and puffs its way 15.5 miles to Frostburg, a 1,300-foot change in elevation.

Along the way, the train climbs through the Narrows, the rock cut through the Allegheny Front that was America's first Gateway to the West. The route now is used by CSX Transportation, Amtrak and Route 40 and once served the Baltimore & Ohio and the Cumberland & Pennsylvania railroads.

After leaving the Narrows, the train and its restored coaches crosses a double-truss steel bridge over Route 40 before chugging north past Wills Mountain and heading for Mount Savage. It then sweeps around Helmstetter's Curve, a half-mile arc that overlooks Cash Valley.

Next up is the 914 foot Brush Tunnel once used as the location for a Pontiac commercial. A hairpin turn and a noticeable increase in grade follows at Woodcock Hollow.

Passengers have a 90-minute layover in Frostburg after the train stops at the Cumberland & Pennsylvania depot. The conductor rolls bicycles from the baggage car out to their riders.

But, before riding down the serpentine spur trail to the GAP, wait a few minutes to watch the engineer ease the locomotive and its tender (coal car) on to a turntable to turn it around for the trip back to Cumberland. It's a great photo opportunity and the turntable operator gives it a few extra spins to accommodate everyone.

On the layover, passengers can climb a long flight of wooden stairs to reach Frostburg's Main Street, visit the Thrasher Carriage Museum across from the C&P Depot - just show your train ticket - or dine at the Trail Inn Caf next to the museum. …

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