Explore the C&O Canal Area’s Amazing Railroad History
“The Grand Old Ditch” was an engineering marvel that changed the face of America, but its time as a main thoroughfare for folks and freight came to an end with the arrival of the “Iron Horse.” Explore the region’s enthralling railroad story past and present with these great options along the C&O Canal.
Whether you’re planning a long trip on the C&O or just a day, one great way to start your journey is by train. The MARC commuter train can get you to the C&O Canal, as can AMTRAK’s Capitol Limited, which lets you walk on with your bicycle and offers service from Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago.
Leaving Cumberland from the historic Western Maryland Railroad Station in the 58-acre Canal Place Heritage Park, there’s nothing in the world to transport you back through time like a ride on a vintage train. With daily trips running through Western Maryland’s beautiful Appalachian Mountains, it’s an absolute must for train lovers and sightseers alike. Look for specialty trains like murder mystery excursions and holiday adventures to take your trip to the next level.
Running parallel to the C&O Canal, the Western Maryland Rail Trail offers 28 miles of paved path. It’s a great change of pace from the canal, literally, as the paving allows cyclists to kick it into another gear. And for C&O explorers looking to extend their adventure, consider the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail trail, a spectacular trail on converted trainways that runs 150 miles, across the Eastern Continental Divide from Cumberland to Pittsburgh.
Completed in 1876 for the B&O Railroad, the Point of Rocks station is still working hard as a stop on the MARC commuter train line. The beautiful Gothic Revival brick tower was designed by legendary B&O architect E. Francis Baldwin, and remains an impressive site. So impressive, in fact, it’s considered the most photographed railroad station in the nation.
Located in the Brunswick Visitor Center, astride the historic freight yards, the Railroad Museum is a great window into the town of Brunswick’s important past as part of the legendary B&O Railroad (That’s right, you can really live the Monopoly board!). Displays include impressive model trains, period costumes, and a fascinating look into the past.