CUMBERLAND, MD. >> Everyone loves a leisurely train ride, especially on a historic train. Consider hopping on board a 1916 Baldwin called the Mountain Thunder -- or any of the restored diesel locomotives of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Foundation -- shed everyday cares and return to a more relaxed way of life.
This year, in addition to the nostalgic ride, some practical education will also be offered.
Through December, youngsters will be able to learn how to "Build Your Own First Aid Kit" and there will be seasonal activities, such as "Make Your Own Reindeer Food."
The activities will be led by representatives of MedExpress, who will be on hand with information on basic health practices, such as hygiene and first aid.
The WMSR operates daily from a station at 13 Canal St. The three-and-a-half-hour trip leaves the Cumberland Station at 11:30 a.m. with a one-and-a-half-hour layover in Frostburg, Md., where travelers can watch the locomotive being repositioned on the turntable for the return trip. Or, they can go sightseeing, shop, and have lunch.
MedExpress is engaging in this cooperative venture with the WMSR as part of its community outreach. "We're proud to partner with WMSR to provide fun, educational health activities to local children," said Carolyn Thrasher, Center Manager for MedExpress. "WMSR's railroad conservation message, paired with our health and wellness activities, creates a well-rounded educational experience."
All WMSR rail cars carry on board MedExpress first aid kits in accordance with Federal Railroad Administration regulations.
The Cumberland to Frostburg line has a maximum grade of 2.8 percent ascending 1,300 feet. It crosses four bridges and hauls through an 834-foot-long tunnel.
"We have a wide variety of people who ride with us, with interests from seeing the stunning scenery in this area to exploring its long history, or even rolling through someone's backyard," said Michael Greshman, WMSR general superintendent. And for those who want to know more as the wheels keep turning, there is a narrator on board the train to answer questions.
For information about fares and other activities, including the September weekend Steel Wheels Festival or the Saturday Night Special, visit www.wmsr.org or call 301-759-4400.