Business Spotlight: Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

Name of Business: Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
Address: 13 Canal Street, Cumberland, MD 21502
Phone Number: (301)-759-4400

What is your business and what do you offer?


The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is a tourist railroad that operates excursions between Cumberland, and Frostburg, Maryland! The WMSR is a 501 (c) Nonprofit organization, providing tourism to our surrounding cities and communities.

What is the history of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad? What inspired you all to run a scenic railroad? 

In 1981, the Allegany Central Railroad began running steam and diesel excursions from Cumberland to Frostburg under the watchful eye of railroading legend Jack Showalter. The railroad took off and became a permanent attraction in Cumberland and Frostburg, after our rail line was nearly abandoned by CSX. During the end of 1991, the SRC began operating under the name “Western Maryland Scenic Railroad”, and the railroad has since been operating for over 30 years. We are inspired by the business and tourism that we bring to our area and preserving history of heritage railroading by restoration, operation, and experience.


Where does the train start and end? How long is the ride?

We operate mostly out of Cumberland, but seasonal trains will run out of Frostburg as well. The trip is just over an hour each direction. Select trains may only operate on certain parts of the railroad. Ex: Polar Express Train Ride, Ice Cream Trains, Pumpkin Patch Trains.

What can a rider expect to see and experience on a ride?

A passenger on the WMSR will see many sights on their way to Frostburg and back. Starting with departing Cumberland through “The Narrows” a water gap. If riders look directly above they will see hikers and mountain climbers at “Lovers Leap”, a popular Cumberland hiking location. Riders will then round World Famous Helmstetter’s Curve. A 180 degree horseshoe shaped curve that will navigate you towards 914 ft long Brush Tunnel. After going through Brush Tunnel, you will be greeted by multiple overlooks and mountainous scenes as you continue your climb towards Frostburg. As you’re entering Frostburg, you will be on the steepest part of your journey up the mountain, with grades approaching 3%. Riders will experience great views, a rolling history lesson, on a luxurious historic piece of passenger rail equipment, all behind steam locomotive no. 1309. The 1309, formerly built for the Chesapeake and Ohio, is the largest in the world of her type. She was restored in 2021 by the WMSR, and puts on quite the show.

How many riders do you typically get a year?

On average we see anywhere from 35-40,000 passengers each year.

What sets Western Maryland Scenic Railroad apart from other scenic adventures?

Steam locomotive no. 1309 sets us apart. Having the largest or best in the world of anything is great, and we get to operate our massive steam engine weekly. The 1309 is a compound engine, which means it uses it’s steam twice, instead of once for a normal engine. The 1309 is the largest operating compound in the world, and on most days the largest operating steam locomotive in the world. There is nothing like riding behind the 1309 in our luxurious railcars or really feel the experience by riding in the Open Air Car during warmer months.

Do you offer any special or themed rides through-out the year?

During the spring we offer Spring Fling rides, to Helmstetter’s Curve to plant flowers, and play outdoor games as a way to shake off those winter blues. Our Frostburg Flyer runs from Memorial Day to the end of October, with steam engine no. 1309. On summer evenings we offer Moonlight on the Mountain trains to see the landscape at sunset. Murder Mystery and Dinner trains also operate during the Summer and Fall, and are a big hit. During the fall, we operate the Frostburg Flyer 5 days a week when the trees are at their peak, this is the best time to ride the train. The Polar Express Train Ride departs Cumberland for the North Pole starting Black Friday until Christmas Eve.

When is the best time to book a ride on the train?

If you’re looking for the best scenery, the middle of October is normally the peak fall season and the leaves make the mountains look their best.

Any changes, events or specials you hope to add in 2023?

We’re currently working on the restoration of our new Diner Car. This car will have a full kitchen, with diner seating and our chefs will cook in front of you on the train! We’re aiming to have this experience available by Summer 2023.

For more info, check out Western Maryland Scenic Railroad’s website.