Steam the Last Baldwin: 1309 work progresses thanks to your donations

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Monday, August 31, 2020

If you have been involved in the restoration of a full-sized steam locomotive you know there are long periods of time between the big events that mark progress. There’s the hydrostatic test of the boiler, which isn’t much visually but is critical to success. Without it, there’s no heart of the locomotive. There’s the steam test. There’s the setting the locomotive on its wheels. Test running. Lots of major milestones, and a million and one details in between that consume hours of time and money. They’re the part of grinding out a locomotive that is fit for operating and will last for years. Right now, that’s the status of Western Maryland Scenic’s restoration of 1949 2-6-6-2 No. 1309, and the subject of Trains Magazine’s Steam the Last Baldwin campaign. You’re not hearing much about current shop work, because, well, a lot of the tasks taking place — while they’re essential — aren’t exciting or visual.


Work is moving forward. There are a lot of small parts to machine for the brake rigging.  The stoker screw has been installed. The stoker is being readied. Work is underway to lag, jacket and finish the backhead. Gary Bensman of Diversified Rail Services tells me that new cab heaters and new floors are being fitted up. A system of temperature sensors has been installed and tested by an electrician finished temp system. Main rod brass is coming, and new rings for the sampling valve have been delivered. The rings for the piston valves have been ordered from a company in Buffalo, N.Y., and should be delivered in the next 4-6 weeks.


Earlier this summer, No. 1309 was set onto its own wheels, and two weeks later did a third steam test to blow out the valves. None of this work would have taken place without you. You donated the money that got this significant project — what will be the world’s largest operating Mallet — back on track. From a need of some $300,000, we’re down to less than $100,000 to finish. The effort is down to the last few weeks of work. Let’s make sure the money is there to support this project and get it across the finish line. 


The payoff is great: We can steam the last locomotive constructed for domestic service of more than 60,000 that the iconic builder made in Pennsylvania. We can enjoy watching it perform on 17 mountain miles of the former Western Maryland Railway main line, including legendary Helmstetter’s Curve. We can bring back one of the biggest beasts to roam the East!


And there’s a great personal payoff: Every contributor of $100 or more is entered into a drawing for a throttle time session. It’s not too late to help. To make a donation online at or mail a check specified for 1309 to Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, P.O. Box 1168, Cumberland, MD 21503.










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