Weekend Wonder: Old-Fashioned Football and a Classic Train Ride

Two great ways to get into the fall spirit.
Weekend Wonder: Old-Fashioned Football and a Classic Train Ride
Take in some old-fashioned football rivalry this weekend. Photograph by Steve Bittner.

Remember when fall weekends meant football? Not the kind where you rarely move off the couch; the cheer-and-hug-your-neighbor, move-to-the-beat-of-the-band kind of football.

You can relive those glory days this weekend at Cumberland, Maryland’s annual homecoming game. Two teams, Allegany High and Fort Hill High—which are just two miles apart—have been fierce rivals for the past 79 years. This year, Fort Hill’s Sentinels are undefeated and the reigning state champions, while the blue-clad Allegany Campers have a very respectable 6-2 record. The annual clash has been named to the Great American Rivalry Series (created by IHigh to spotlight the best high school rivalries in the nation); the teams are fighting for the right to take home the Black Kettle, a trophy engraved with all the past game scores.

The homecoming game typically fills the 6,000-seat Greenway Avenue Stadium (directions are available online). Spectators are treated to performances by two award-winning bands along with the crowning of the Homecoming Court during the halftime festivities. “There’s a lot of pomp and pageantry,” says Tim Thomas of the Cumberland Visitors Bureau. “We prepare for this day all year.” Kickoff is at noon, with plenty of feasting on hot dogs, pizza, and fried pickles.

Not into football? You can still get on board—literally—another Cumberland institution: riding the Scenic Western Maryland Railroad. “Mountain Thunder” departs from the Cumberland Depot every fall weekend at 11:30 AM for a colorful ride through the mountains. A live narrator shares stories of the region’s history and culture, including tales of George Washington’s time in the area. The coal-powered steam engine blows a smoky trail as it chugs along, stopping for an hour-and-a-half layover in Frostburg, where you can have lunch or check out the shops. The train heads back for a 3 o’clock arrival in Cumberland. Rates start at $18 for children ages 12 and under, and go up to $60 for an adult in first class.

December 6 through December 21 at 6 PM, the train takes a trip full of kids in pajamas to visit the North Pole and meet Santa Claus.

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