Monday, October 14, 2013

Woodbine to the Mt. Airy Tunnel

Today I hiked from Woodbine, actually the Morgan Road crossing on the approach to Woodbine, to the Mt. Airy tunnel, a seven mile walk. I saw two trains. At the start an eastbound train headed for Baltimore at the Woodbine tunnel. At the finish a westbound car carrier train headed into the Mt. Airy tunnel. The only living wildlife I saw were birds and the first and biggest of them was an injured turkey buzzard, which literally fell down the hillside on the approach to the Woodbine tunnel. I think we scared each other. The big bird appeared to have an injured wing, rendering it unable to fly, though it was able to walk.

The other wild animals I saw, at least a half dozen, were all road kill between the tracks, including the box turtle in my previous post today. Not a happy day for wildlife viewing. Also strange was that the Mt. Airy tunnel was the only tunnel I have encountered on the Old Main Line that does not have its name built into the masonry of the tunnel's portal. You can see more photos here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hiking in the clouds....and in the rain they carry

Today, after yesterday's ten mile warm up, I hiked fifteen miles in the rain from Frostburg to Cumberland along the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad right of way. It was wet but beautiful, and everyone on the trail except me was on a bike. The clouds came down to meet us.

And the view of the the Allegheny escarpment in the Cumberland Narrows, Maryland's Cumberland Gap, was quite impressive and made clear what early American settlers were up against in moving over the Allegheny mountains.

More photos here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Great Allegheny Passage

Actually the GAP is mostly above ground, but this is a shot inside the three quarters of a mile long Big Savage Tunnel through Big Savage Mountain only a short distance east of the eastern continental divide. This morning I hiked a ten mile stretch of the Passage from Deal, PA to Frostburg, MD with my brother Chris. It was the nicest hiking and biking trail I have ever walked because of vistas like this:

The trail is on an abandoned Western Maryland Railroad right of way which runs from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh. PA and connects with the C&O Canal tow path at Cumberland. More photos can be seen here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cumberland Connection

The Western Maryland Railroad station in  Cumberland, MD. This spot in The Queen City is where the C&O Canal, The B&O/CSX RR and the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail meet at the confluence of the Potomac River and Wills Creek, one of five gaps allowing passage over the Allegheny Mountain range, the other Cumberland Gap. It is also where during the French and Indian War British General Braddock, with his aide, Colonel George Washington,  marshaled his forces at Fort Cumberland before attacking the French at Fort Duqusne, now Pittsburgh. Braddock suffered fatal wounds when his force was ambushed en route to Fort Duquesne. George Washington assumed command. In 1794 President Washington again used Cumberland as a staging area before he marched into Pennsylvania as Commander in Chief of an American army to suppress The Whiskey Rebellion on the western frontier of the new nation. More photos here.