Ride a Steam Locomotive in Western MD + Visit the Iron Festival in the Mountains

MARYLAND – Spring is here, so it’s a great time to explore the great outdoors.

One way to get in touch with nature is to visit the mountains of western Maryland. Residents can take steam locomotive rides on a vintage railway. They can also explore the iron and plant festivals. For something closer, check out a guided east coast beaver walk.

Patch recently partnered with several local organizations to bring you their latest news. This guest contribution comes from National Park Service Chesapeake Gateways and the Chesapeake Conservancy. Here’s what Jody Hedeman Couser submitted to help you explore the Chesapeake Bay:

“Summer Steam Season

Built in 1949, Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Steam Locomotive No. 1309 was built to haul the railroad’s heaviest coal trains throughout Kentucky and West Virginia. #1309 has been meticulously restored to service by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, which offers summer steam rides (in addition to the usual diesel rides) that include Mountain Moonlight (available once a month on Friday) and Frostburg Flyer, usually available Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the week. Timetables and train tickets.

“Maryland Iron Festival

With the discovery of rich deposits of hematite ore in the hills of the Monocacy River Valley in the mid-18th century, industrialization quickly spread to the valley. From 1776 to 1903, steel companies mined the rich beds of ore near Catoctin Mountain, smelted it in furnaces, and cast both pig iron and iron tools of all kinds. The Iron Festival celebrates this history with forging and casting demonstrations, live iron casting, log cutting, live music, guided hikes and an artists and makers market. There will be children’s activities, a bake sale, “Tour de force” challenges, food and drinks and more! May 21-22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Catoctin Mountain Park, MD. Full weekend schedule.

“Maryland Mountain Native Plant Festival

Looking for an excuse for a spring visit to the mountains? Discover the connection between native plants, humans and wildlife during this free event at New Germany State Park. There will be many native plant and artisan vendors and conservation groups including Garrett Trails, Maryland Conservation Corps, Trout Unlimited, Maryland Native Plant Society and University of MD Extension – Garrett County Master Gardeners. May 14, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information.”

“Beavers and Tuckahoe Soup ‘n Walk

Observe the magnificent view of Tuckahoe Creek while looking for signs of beavers. We will be looking for plants of interest such as mountain laurel, beech, tulip tree, lady’s slipper, Solomon’s seal and may apple. After the guided walk with a docent naturalist, enjoy a delicious and nutritious lunch accompanied by a brief nutrition lesson. $30 for non-members. May 21, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Adkins Arboretum, Ridgely, MD. More information and registration.”

Jose P. Rogers