One of Allegany County’s top tourism attractions — the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad — begins marking its 25th-anniversary season today.
The railroad is coming off a strong year, and it is hoped that an improving national economy will add to what for the last three years has been an increasing ridership.
Michael Gresham, a retired Air Force major and scenic railroad industry veteran who is the WMSR’s new general superintendent and chief operating officer, said he hopes to attract 45,000 riders this year.
Mountain Thunder, the 1916 Baldwin steam locomotive that pulls the train, is only three years younger than the Western Maryland Railway Station that’s the departure point for our scenic trains.
Ceremonies launching the silver anniversary season were scheduled there for 11 a.m. today. Book signings by local history authors will be held Saturday before the train leaves for Frostburg at 11:30 a.m., and upon its return at 3 p.m.
The train will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May; Thursday through Sunday in June, July and August; and Friday through Sunday in September. Excursions are scheduled every day except Monday during October, when the fall foliage traditionally reaches its peak in the Western Maryland mountains.
November’s scheduled runs include every Saturday and Sunday and on Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving. All excursions from Nov. 29 through the anniversary season’s close on Dec. 22 will be Santa Express trains operating Friday through Sunday.
First-class dining is available on Saturdays and occasional Sundays. Advance reservations are required for first-class seating.
Besides the regularly scheduled excursions, murder mystery dinner trains are offered on selected Saturdays and 15 different shows in which passengers may participate in solving the mystery are scheduled during the 2013 season.
Reservations for excursions on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad may be made by calling 301-759-4400 or toll-free at 1-800-TRAIN50 or online at www.wmsr.com. Walk-up tickets for coach seating will also be available.