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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.