Western Maryland Ry. - Ridgeley Yard and Knobley Tunnel

After visiting Western Maryland Scenic Railway’s shop in Ridgeley, W.Va., I’ve pulled out my slides to jog my memory of how it looked over 40 years ago. I was shocked. Here are some before and after views.

ALCo FA-2 303 with F9b 413 and F-7a 51 have cut off from a westbound freight and will head to the engine terminal.

F7a 240 with SD40 7474 and F7as 63 and 236 are ready to couple up for the run to Connellsville, Pa.

The westbound leaves town. This could have been “symbol freight” BT-1 (Hagerstown-Connellsville) or a late running AJ-1.

The westbound freight crosses the Potomac River. In the background is the interchange track to the B&O.

The engine terminal was called Maryland Junction. No. 303 gets some attention.

F7a 234 and F7b 403 are on the service track with a lash-up of N&W power. N&W GP30 2906 is ex-NKP.

That’s an unusual sand tower.

RS-3 194 had been equipped with a steam generator in the short end. Although they had a large roundhouse here for steam, this small shop sufficed for diesels.

RS-3 187 switches a covered hopper of locomotive sand and a good looking mill gon.

I was next in the Cumberland area on March 17, 1972. I persuaded my parents to take this trip (I can’t explain how I talked them in to this!). WM’s last switcher – 900 HP ALCo S-6 152 – was switching the Ridgeley end of the yard.

For those of you on the C&OHS tour in July that appears to be the car shop in the background where the WMSR keeps their equipment now.

GP9 33 was at the engine terminal. WM was an early advocate of chopping the short nose on their Geeps.

Herb Parsons and I drove over here following our WMSR tour. Everything is gone except the wye which WMSR still uses. All of this has been reclaimed by nature. This view looks railroad east at Maryland Junction tower. The main line to Hagerstown swings to the left and under the mountain through Knobley Tunnel. The track to the right goes west a short distance to Knobmount Yard on the Elkins line where the coal was classified.

At the lower right of this Frostburg Quad 15 min. 1950 topo you can see Maryland, Jct., Knobley Tunnel and Knobmount Yard.

My next visit to Maryland Jct. was on March 13, 1973 (one day after my 22nd birthday). By coincidence GP9 33 was again in the engine terminal. Using Ektachrome film didn’t help. My travelling partner was railfan Lowell Suttman from Miamisburg, OH.

RS-3 moseyed out of Knobley Tunnel heading toward the yard on the Connellsville main.

“MY” controlled the junction. We talked to the operator for a while. He said an eastbound freight would be departing soon. We talked some more and finally left for a shot at the east portal of the tunnel. We had to go back through congested Cumberland and south on Virginia Avenue past the B&O shop to get to the east end of the bridge.

Great location but no train. The lesson here is don’t linger! That is WV 28 above the tunnel. Bill McClure had some good luck here.

Herb and I pushed on through the weeds and brush seeking the tunnel. We broke out into the clear next to a residential street (which we had just passed up in the truck!). What’s this? There’s the tunnel, and now it is a public trail!

Maryland Junction and the wye today. WMSR still uses this much to turn equipment.

Knobley Tunnel is now a lighted walking trail!

And the bridge over the Potomac.

Looking north toward downtown Cumberland. The CSX yard would be out of view on the right.

All for tonight.

Everett Young


On April 8, 1971 I crossed the bridge from Cumberland to Ridgeley, W.Va., location of Western Maryland’s yard in the area. Quickly I found S-2 143 near the west end of the yard. Western Maryland didn’t have much of a steam switcher fleet; 0-6-6-0s, 0-8-0s converted from 2-8-0s, and small 0-6-0s. Therefore all of their early diesels were switchers bought during and just after WWII. No. 143 came in 1946.

MWR 19
MWR 10
MWR 18
MWR 13
MWR 17
MWR 20
MWR 11
MWR 22
MWR 25
MWR 23
MWR 16
MWR Map 15
MWR 24
MWR 14
MWR 21
MWR 26
MWR 27
MWR 28
MWR 29

This is the east portal.

Looking north toward downtown Cumberland. The CSX yard would be out of view on the right.

All for tonight.

Everett Young

Chessie System Historical Society

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