TAEM Takes a ride on the Walkersville Southern by author Joseph J. O’Donnell and photographer Joseph O’Donnell

Joseph O'Donnell, Sr. and Joseph O'Donnell, Jr.On the 16th of September our magazine turned its eyes to the North to see what new adventure we could muster up. Approximately two years ago (see the September 2017 article) we ventured to Cumberland City Maryland and toured the area on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. We decided to do so again , but at a closer location to home.

Our photographer, Joseph O’Donnell, found such a venue and brought it to my attention. Game for a pleasant afternoon jaunt in ideal weather conditions , we headed north to Maryland once again to the Small town of Walkersville where a splendid small tourist railway and museum stood.

The railroad is small to comparison to its Cumberland counterpart, but a slow ride in a comfortable setting proved interesting and relaxing. We had a wait for our scheduled train departure, so we headed to a eatery named ‘Nannies Diner’ just down the road for a bite of lunch. The restaurant’s appearance and interior is lacking eye appeal, but the food is delicious and very affordable.
We kept close track of our time and headed back to the station. With nearly an hour to spare we toured a small museum on the site as well as the train yard facilities there. There is a history to the railroad as well. The rail line began in 1991 on the old Pennsylvania Frederick secondary built in 1869-1872. They operate on a seven mile stretch of track that connects to the Western Maryland Railway to the north that interchanges with the CSX Railroad.

With no present commercial customers of its own the present service acts as a tourist railroad. If it wished to garnish freight traffic it would most definitely need to upgrade its rail line. It recently received trackage rights for another three miles to the north, so there may be something in the ‘works’ for the near future.
The train trip itself lasts approximately just over an hour to its end point and return to the Walkersville station. The engine was a 44-ton EMD switcher and hauled two observation covered flat cars, to enclosed passenger cars , and a caboose. It operated as a ‘push-pull’ configuration and the caboose was man by part of the crew who used two-way radios to communicate with the engine crew.

In the rail yard there is a small fleet of rail cars and engines undergoing refurbishing, but there is no plans at the present to expand this practice as the facilities and staff are not as expansive as those it the Strasburg Railroad Pennsylvania facilities. They would also have to attract customers where none present exist. Still, one can only hope and dream.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the enclosed passenger cars once belonged to the Long Island Railroad, and there is a good possibility that i once road on these in my youth when I traveled from my home to Grumman Aerospace In Bethpage Long Island to work every day. I guess that it is a small world after all.

We urge our readers to venture to this pleasant little rail line and enjoy the scenery it travels through. They are located at 34 W. Pennsylvania Avenue, Walkersville, Maryland (21793). Their phone number is 301/898-0899 . The train fare is quite reasonable and they also operate Holiday and Dinner trains as well. Please call ahead first for information and tour times and please mention that you heard about them in our Magazine.


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