This past February I attended a photo charter at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad hosted by Lerro Productions. The charter included a full day of photography on the railroad plus a night session at Cumberland Station. With 734 almost out of operating days before a required major rebuild, the charter sold out quickly as many photographers wanted to spend one more day with one of their favorite locomotives. As it turns out, due to a landslide on the line a couple of weeks after the charter, this would be the last time 734 ran all the way to Frostburg.
After lunch the clouds rolled in, so rather than shoot in poor lighting, a couple of us elected to head back to the caboose and ride with the brakeman for the rest of the afternoon. This turned into a portrait shoot since this particular crew member takes great pride in accurately dressing the part for these photo shoots.
Finally, 734 was parked in front Cumberland Station for one last night session before her rebuild. What made this on unusual is that she was turned facing East when most night sessions had her facing West to take advantage of the water spout at the other end of the station.
It will be a few years before 734 is running again since the railroad is focusing on restoring C&O 1309. Current reports indicate that the WMSR’s “new” steam locomotive will be running next year. As always in the world of steam preservation, “it’ll be done when it’s ready.”