Walkersville Southern 2015

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Marshall Abrams, Allan Kikrpatrick, Ken Nesper, Brian Sheron, and David Sheron

A Trip in the Country
by Jesse Cantrill

Some 25 members and guests drove north on a dismal gray morning to visit the Walkersville Southern Railroad on September 12. Though several of us would have preferred to travel in style on the B&O Columbian - now only a memory - the early morning drive on 270 wasn’t bad at all. And parking behind the station was free.

The Walkersville Southern is an operating railroad - built, maintained, and operated by volunteers for the pleasure of those of us still living in another era. The most striking thing about the WSRR is how much it looks like one of our earlier layouts. The Station House and Baggage House seem like slightly larger versions of Campbell kits, painted properly in the buff and brown of our beloved Pennsy. The WSRR has several GE 44 ton diesel electrics (from Keystone Locomotive Works) and four MP54 passenger cars looking exactly like those early Walthers MU coach kits with porthole windows at each end. A lovely 25 ton self-propelled crane from Stewart Products was parked nearby.

Our event began with a private tour of the engine house (probably a Suydam kit) conducted by Paul Kovalcik, a long-time WSRR member. He described the history of the railroad and the origin and refurbishment of the locomotives and rolling stock. Members of the WSRR follow their own interests – some laying track (with code 55 rail), some refurbishing locomotives, some preferring to operate the equipment. Sound familiar?

At 1100 hours we boarded our private car, a genuine ‘ping-pong’ from the Long Island Rail Road, for the trip from West Hempstead to Penn Station. We were accompanied by Potomac Division member Dennis Meany, a former LIRR conductor who still fits into the uniform he wore 20 years ago. Dennis described how these 64 foot cars rocked from side to side when placed between longer heavyweight cars – the origin of their notable name. Philly fans remember these ‘red cars’ on the Paoli Local before the Silverliners began to appear in the 1960’s and efficiency replaced memory.

We rode several miles north through the woods toward the Pennsy interchange, stopping automobile traffic at two grade crossings. Reversing our course, we traveled back to the station and further south past a slightly derelict N8 cabin car (probably a brass kit from Quality Craft) waiting for some tender loving care.

At this point the train was held up by a well-organized parcel of bandits from the wild west who extracted several hundred thousand railroad dollars from the surprised riders. To the delighted screams of the little ones, deputy marshals chased the bandits off the train, engaged in a shoot-out, and recovered all of the loot.

Recuperating quickly from their wounds, the bandits and the marshals all rejoined the train for the short ride back to the station. The WSRR offers dinner trips and mystery story trips as well as a full schedule of nostalgia trips like ours - see www.wsrr.org for information. A fine museum with a lovely HO layout and a collection of railroad artifacts is just across the street from the station.

Many thanks to Brian and Tom for making the arrangements and to the members of the WSRR for their gracious hospitality. It was a most pleasant excursion on a damp morning and great fun for all.