It's time to Steam the Last Baldwin: A final push!

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

For the last six months, dear readers, you’ve patiently endured my calls to support the Steam the Last Baldwin campaign, the effort to restore the 1949 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 at the non-profit Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. 

It’s an expensive engine, but the payoff is incredible. We can steam the last locomotive constructed for domestic service of more than 60,000 that the iconic builder made in Pennsylvania. We can see it perform on 17 miles of the former Western Maryland Railway main line, including legendary Helmstetter’s Curve. 

Many of you have cheered on the project. Many of you responded with online donations and mailed checks. Your money got this landmark project moving once again. Your money made it possible to set the engine on its wheels in June and for a test fire in July to clean out the valve and cylinder passages. You whittled down a steep, almost $300,000 gap in funding with gifts of $25, $50, $100, and in some cases much larger amounts. For that I am here to say thank you. You made a difference. A mid-year leadership grant from the John Emery Rail Heritage Trust put another $50,000 toward the effort. At this point, $100,000 will get the restoration work, testing, and break-in work done so that this fall an FRA blue card will go in No. 1309’s cab and the engine can begin a 45-year career in the Allegany Mountains.

We all need something good to come out of 2020. I think getting behind the Last Baldwin is a great goal. I invite you to go to www.wmsr.com/1309 to review the list of work that’s been done and what’s left to do. Then, while you’re there, if you feel called upon, make a donation or drop a check into the mail at the address there. If everyone who reads this donates $100, the goal will be met. Again, my thanks for your support of this project of national importance, and I look forward to seeing you on the platform at Cumberland and rounding Helmstetter’s Curve on a train pulled by Baldwin’s final steam locomotive. Let’s Steam the Last Baldwin!   

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