For the past two years, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has been restoring a Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad 2-6-6-2 steam locomotive. When completed, the No. 1309 will be the largest and most powerful steam locomotive still in regular operation in the United States.
Photos and text by Barbara Haddock Taylor
The train, a compound locomotive called the “Mallet,” was designed by Swiss engineer Anatole Mallet and was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in September of 1949. It was the last commercially built steam locomotive for use by a railroad in the United States, and was on display at the B & O Railroad Museum in Baltimore from 1972 until it was purchased by the scenic railroad in 2014.
Powered by coal and steam, the 217-ton train was used to transport coal from mines through the twisty mountainous terrain of of Kentucky and West Virginia. When the restoration is completed, the locomotive will pull railroad cars full of train enthusiasts and tourists on a 16-mile round trip journey between Cumberland and Frostburg.
“We’re excited to have such a unique locomotive and are looking forward to sharing it with the public,” said Jim Montague, fleet manager for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. “It will be great to see it back in operation. It’s quite a piece of machinery.”