Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Changing of the Midland Guard

Maryland Midland; Taneytown, Md.; February 11, 2014
The Maryland Midland Railway is changing. While it has been owned by short line umbrella company Genesee & Wyoming Industries since 2008, the railroad has kept its traditional motive power fleet of GP38-3s painted in blue and orange (save for one unit that received GWI corporate paint). In 2014 GWI decided to shuffle motive power between railroads; much of Maryland Midland's roster was being sent west to the Central Oregon & Pacific, while MMID would be receiving locomotives from another railroad. All would be painted before shipping to their new homes.

Last month I headed to the Maryland Midland to chase the train from Union Bridge to Highfield and had a somewhat difficult day (you can read that story, which also has some more details on the railroad's operations, here). With a nice sunny day in the forecast for February 11, I met up with my brother in Maryland again, this time to chase the train from Union Bridge to Emory Grove (a Tuesday and Thursday run). The first move was to send a train the opposite direction from Emory Grove out of Union Bridge, heading to Keymar where the MMID east-west ex-Western Maryland main line crosses its north-south ex-Pennsylvania Railroad branches. At Keymar the train headed north to Taneytown to do some switching. Leading the train was GP38-3 No. 2063, making its very first run in the paint for its new operator, Central Oregon & Pacific. As it sat among the the evergreens in Taneytown it got a small taste of the scenery it will soon see in Oregon (above).

The switching took a long time in Taneytown, and more was done near Keymar. We didn't think the railroad would have two crews on, and it looked like the train to Emery Grove might not be operating. Perhaps it was another tough day for us on the Midland. Finally done with its switching, the train swung off the ex-Pennsy and onto the Western Maryland at Keymar.
Maryland Midland; Keymar, Md.; February 11, 2014
The iconic shot in Union Bridge is of a train passing the former Western Maryland station and office building. The Western Maryland Historical Society now occupies the building with an extensive collection of artifacts, a library and a museum.
Maryland Midland; Union Bridge, Md.; February 11, 2014
With the train back into Union Bridge it seemed our only hope would be for a run up to the Lehigh Cement plant, the line's largest customer and part owner of the railroad. The plant is served daily. But while waiting at the junction that leads to the plant, we caught a break. We were sitting with friend Bruce Kerr, and one of his Facebook friends posted that the Emory Grove train had just passed through Westminster heading to Emory Grove. And it had the last two blue and orange MMID units on the train! We immediately beat feet to Westminster to wait for the train to return. The highlight in Westminster is where the railroad cuts through the town's busiest intersection. The approaching train always sends cars scrambling out of the way.
Maryland Midland; Westminster, Md.; February 11, 2014
With one of these two units next in line to go into the paint shop, we knew this would be one of the last trains with matched blue and orange power, so we made the most out of it with a spirited chase. We got the train again near New Windsor.
Maryland Midland; New Windsor, Md.; February 11, 2014
A funky old building just outside of Union Bridge made for a nice scene as well.
Maryland Midland; Union Bridge, Md.; February 11, 2014
Back in Union Bridge, the train passed the Maryland Midland offices. The building is relatively new construction, but done in an old-ish style. It is directly across the street from the old Western Maryland station.
Maryland Midland; Union Bridge, Md.; February 11, 2014
Finally came the daily run up to Lehigh Cement. As said above, one of these two units will receive the GWI corporate colors and be sent on its way to another railroad. However, it is reported that the other of this pair will stay on the Maryland Midland and stay in blue and orange paint as the railroad's "heritage unit." More photos from this day can be found here.
Maryland Midland; Union Bridge, Md.; February 11, 2014

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