Chesapeake & Ohio #1309
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad #1309, originally Chesapeake & Ohio #1309, is a compound articulated class H-6 “Mallet” 2-6-6-2 steam locomotive. It was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1949 for the C&O, where it pulled coal trains until its retirement in 1956. It has the distinction of being the last steam locomotive built by Baldwin for a North American railroad.
In 2014, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad acquired C&O #1309 from the B&O Railroad Museum and after a 7-year restoration, the locomotive was finally ready for service. During the restoration, the railroad painted #1309 as a Western Maryland locomotive with the fireball logo on the tender. For our photo charter, the locomotive was temporarily painted back to the original Chesapeake & Ohio lettering.
We knew this charter would be popular but it sold out faster than anyone could have imagined. Both charters sold out in 5.5 hours!
This charter took a lot of time and prep work. Our first step for the transformation was painting the tender and cab with a mixture of wax and paint pigment. Because the paint mixture was so thin, it took 20 coats to cover the original paint. The folks at the C&TS were a big help with instructing us on how to do the Hollywood paint. The second step was creating and applying the C&O vinyl lettering. A big thanks go to Larry Evans for supplying the original artwork drawings, Steve Lerro for digitally redrawing the artwork, GW Signs for doing the vinyl printing, and of course Nathaniel Watts for applying the lettering to the engine. The final step was to add dirt and ash to the freshly painted areas to make them look weathered. Once it was all done, the engine looked great and it was now showtime.
Both charters had a freight train that was made up of gondolas, hopper cars, and a caboose. A pair of diesel engines pulled two passenger cars for the photographers to ride in. Instead of the hooter whistle, we opted to put a long bell Southern 3 chime whistle on 1309.
The first two-day charter was the coldest, with windchills in the single digits. The photographers tolerated the cold to shoot the brilliant white steam plumes the #1309 created on every runby. We had clear blue skies for most of the first day, which was much better than what the forecast had originally called for. Our second day started overcast and became partly cloudy, but some overnight snow flurries had left some snow on the ground near the Frostburg end of the line, allowing for some wintery runbys.
It warmed up significantly for our last three days of charters, with temperatures almost reaching 60 degrees. The weather was also much better than forecast, as we had gorgeous sunrises on two of the three days. Each day had a mix of clouds and sun, but we never saw a drop of rain that had been predicted.
Our night sessions took place in downtown Cumberland, with #1309 posed in front of the former Western Maryland station. We changed up the actors’ poses and scenes slightly for each session and even did some slow-speed runbys during the final night session.
The photographers that attended the charter came from all over the world. The almost a dozen countries represented included the US, Canada, France, Italy, Holland, Germany, Austria, the UK, and Chile. They all had a great time, and we hope to be able to get back to Western Maryland again soon for more time with the #1309.