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December 20, 2007 Trip
to Cumberland, Maryland
     We finally did it.  We were able to get outside and enjoy a nice sunny winter day as a family, with the exception of my 16 year old; who had a prior engagement at a dance with his girlfriend this evening.  Its been a little while since we have been able to get out and do things as a family on weekends now for a couple of months for various reasons (weather, schedules, and just the holidays in general).  Well, like I said, we finally did it and it was great.
Sideling Hill      Its still winter time and we are finally seeing some "real" winter weather for a change (or at least with the temperatures) so we decided to take a drive to Cumberland, Maryland.  We chose Cumberland because we could check out the Western Maryland Rail Road Station, which also houses a C&O Canal Museum downstairs.  While driving on I-68 you also pass Sidling Hill. Sideling Hill
So many people pass by the Sideling Hill visitor center with out ever stopping by.  What a shame.  If you have any interest at all in Maryland Geology and Maryland wildlife this place is an interesting place to stop.  They have 2 floors dedicated to both geological and wildlife displays.  Whether you have the kids or not its an easy place to kill one hour, two hours, or maybe even more just looking at the exhibits and doing a little reading and its well worth it. 
     We finally made it to the Western Maryland Railway Station about 1:30 in the afternoon after our stop at Sideling Hill.  This railroad station is literally at the end of the 184.5 mile long C&O canal originating in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC.  One of these days I would love to take a canal boat ride down in Georgetown, but that is a discussion for another day.  Again, another trip for another time is the Western Maryland Railway offers several different railway excursions.  I keep telling myself, "One of these days...".  Well, we'll see.  Again, this still wasn't the purpose of our trip today.  Today, our intentions are just to spend time as a family and do a small amount of poking around the RR station and the C&O museum located beneath the RR station. 

Western Maryland Railroad Station

Western Maryland Railroad Station

     Hey there was no one around to advise us that "hands-on" wasn't allowed, so the kids had a blast climbing on the train engine and the caboose that were parked behind the station at the passenger loading section.  I think they will all this next week to have a few stories to tell their classmates at school.  I am not sure if these pieces of equipment are still in use or not since I am not a train expert, but they look to be in pretty good shape!

Western Maryland Railroad Station

     Wow...  Did I mention the C&O Canal Visitor Center below the Western Maryland Railroad Station?  Its my favorite visitor center dedicated to the C&O.  There are exhibits on a wide variety of topics related to the C&O canal, from canal boat construction, the Allegheny coal industry, the people who worked the canal, and how they lived.  If your into the canal or Maryland history at all this place is a must see!  All the exhibits are very kid interactive as well.  So while your reading and listening to interesting facts, the little ones will have plenty to keep themselves occupied as well.  Someone really planned this out well!
C&O Canal Visitors Center and Exhibits in Cumberland, Maryland   C&O Canal Visitors Center and Exhibits in Cumberland, Maryland

C&O Canal Visitors Center and Exhibits in Cumberland, Maryland

C&O Canal Mile 184.5      Well the day did have to come to a close some point in time.  So we wrapped up our trip with a short walk on the end of the C&O Canal (mile 184.5).  The picture to the left is from standing on a bridge looking over the canal where it ends just before I-68.  Like I said at the top of this page, we are now experiencing winter temperatures finally.  So we needed a little something to warm up.  We found Queen City Creamery not far away so we could get our bellies warmed back up with some nice hot chocolate and coffee... C&O Canal Mile 184.5
     I am really fond of the C&O canal, the Potomac River (which goes through Cumberland), and a little bit of the railroad history in Maryland.  However, there are many more things to do in Cumberland, and I am looking forward to exploring this town in the future!

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