Appalachian Autumn (2008) Tour
Part 5: Western Maryland Scenic
Today we visited the C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio) Canal Museum, and
rode the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad from Cumberland to Frostburg.
After returning from Frostburg, we walked around Cumberland, exploring some of
the architecture in the area. All of our activities today were
within a few easy blocks walking from our hotel. We had a dinner of real
"Coney Island" hot dogs in a diner dating back to the 1920s.
It's off to Cass, West Virginia tomorrow to see and ride a
logging railroad (behind a Shay locomotive!).
|And the answer is .....
||This is an actual size replica of a barge used on the
C&O Canal, which runs 185 miles from Washington, D.C. (Georgetown) to
Cumberland, Maryland. The canal was built over a twenty-two year
period from 1828 to 1850. Canal operation faced stiff competition
from nearby rail routes (remember the Horseshoe Curve was completed in
1851). The canal was completely abandoned for commercial purposes
after a flood in 1924. Today, it has been preserved as a
superb bicycle and hiking trail leading all the way from Washington to
||The canal barges were hauled by mules that walked
along an adjacent tow path. It was common for an entire family
unit to operate one barge, with the children enlisted to guide the mules
along the towpath. This bronze outside the museum depicts a young
boy with a barge mule. Leading the mules required walking the
entire 185 mile length of the canal in 7 days. The
barges provided living quarters for their family operators as well (look
carefully at the previous picture and you can see the living space at
the far end of the barge).
||As with other massive construction projects of the
period, the canal was constructed almost entirely using manual labor.
Irish workers were imported for this task, just as they had been for the
building of the Horseshoe Curve. This Celtic cross monument pays tribute to
those Irish workers.
Click here if you have
trouble reading the inscription at the base of the monument.
|The C&O Canal museum is in the lower story of
the Western Maryland Railroad Depot. This interesting brickwork
decorates the stairway leading up to the Depot....
||Here you can see how the bricks were arranged to form
the image in the previous picture.
||Here's something you have to be prepared to do if you
want to take pictures of trains.....wait, while looking expectantly up
the tracks. We were awaiting arrival of the (steam) train that
would take us to Frostburg.
||Here she comes....Baldwin 2-8-0 #734, built in 1916,
pulling a consist of about 12 coaches.
||A nice view of #734 lined up in front of the
||We were seated in the first class diner/kitchen.
Our group of 20 had this car to ourselves.
||#734 is being uncoupled from the train after arriving
|The route climbs steadily to Frostburg, where the
track dead-ends at a turntable at the base of a large cliff.
Here, #734 is entering the turntable to be turned for the return trip.
||The norm for churches in Frostburg, like those in
Cumberland, is an impressive spire like this one.
||These two churches were on the same block along the
main street of Frostburg. The proximity of churches and the
similarity of the spire construction suggests (to me, anyway) that there
was a bit of "spire envy" going around when they were built.
|We found a nice coffee shop for Mo to get a latte
before walking back to the train.
||The weather was a little gray and damp, but you can
still see the beautiful fall colors in the valley below the Frostburg
||This is a cooling vent intake on one of the passenger
cars. I just thought it was interesting to see how the falling
leaves had been sucked against the screen.
||As we walked around Cumberland in the afternoon, we
saw even more spires. The white spire on the left is on a Lutheran
church. The large red brick building is the Allegany County
Courthouse. Note that Allegany County in Maryland is spelled
differently than the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania.
|Another view (apologies for the cluttered foreground)
showing quite a collection of spires in Cumberland.
||This is the Episcopal church.
||Another view of the Episcopal church. As I
admired the striking spires, I couldn't help but wonder - how the heck
were these things constructed before the age of power cranes? Most
of them look to me like they're shingled, some with tile.
When the comparatively modest steeple on Our Lady of Good Help in
Hoquiam was re-shingled, it took a contractor with a crane to get the
job done. I can only imagine what it would take to construct or
repair one of these.
||Nice fall colors surround the Allegany Courthouse.
||Click here to
watch a short video of #734 steaming into the Cumberland Depot.
|Fall displays are everywhere. This one was
outside an attorney's office near the Courthouse.
||It's our bank!
||(Video files are very large, and will take several
minutes to download even with a fast internet connection.)