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Exploring the Allegheny Mountains by train and bike. Join the group for a train ride up Western Maryland's Allegheny Mountains on the Western Maryland Scenic Railway, running May through December, covers the 16 miles uphill journey with either a 1916 Baldwin steam engine or 1960's diesel locomotive pulling vintage passenger cars. The gradual downhill return is along a trail of packed crushed stone running parellel to the train tracks. It's hart of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail that runs 132 miles from Pittsubrg, PA to Cumberland. Bikers barely need to pedal, leaving plently of opportunity for gazing at the mountain views. Train takes one hour and bike trip takes about an hour and a half. No extra fee for taking bikes on the train. Seats on the station side of the train offer the best views.Passage on the two first-class cars costs extra but the experience is full of nostaglia with the cars mahogany walls, Victorian lighting, curtains and table seating for the meal served en route. All bikes are loaded by the conductor into a former mail car. Soon after pulling out, the train enters a mile-long gorge called the Narrows, a key passage to the West. The train passes over a 310-foor-long steel bridge, bends around the half-mile horseshoe called Helmstetter;s Curve, and goes through the 914-foot-long Brush Tunnel, built in 1911. If you look out the back of the train through the open door in the food car, you can watch the tracks seem to merge into a single point as they disappear out of sight. With Whistle blaring and brakes straining, the trian arrives at the 1891 Frostburg Station for a 90-minutes layover. Since this is the end of the train line, turning the enginer around for the return trip is accomplished with a turntable. The conductor uncouples the locomotive from the train cars and runs onto the turntable for a spin, then drives off in the opposite direction and links to the other end of the train. The Trasher Carriage Museum with horse-drawn carriages and sleighs makes an interesting stop before setting out by bike. Trees shade most of the journey while overlooks provide impress views of the Allegheny Mountains. The track highlights are different from the seat of a bike. Your get the feel of beingi n the belly of Piney Mountain while riding through the dark, cool Brush Tunnel. You can see the entire arc of Helmstetter's Curbe and the angular geometry of the steel girders on the train bridge. Back at the station, visit the C&O Canal Vistor Center, then walk two blocks to the Queen City Creamery & Deli for a rare find: Fresh-daily frozen custard, which has a thick, creamy texture. Sit at the 1940's soda fountain counter to savor the yesteryear experience. (From: AAA World, Jan/Feb 2010 issues, P24) CARPOOL SPOT: Take I-270 North. Exit at Exit 11-Montgomery Village Avenue. Go a few lights and take a RIGHT onto Lost Knife Rd. The Commuter Parking Lot at the corner of Lost Knife Rd and Odenhal on your RIGHT. Website: http://www.wmsr.com/ http://www.wmsr.com/attraction.php?attraction=18&category=132&ac=18,132
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