CASS, WV (WOAY) – The railroad was built in 1901 and was used to haul lumber from the mountain into the mill at Cass.
The tracks were expanded to reach the top of Bald Knob which is the third highest peek in the state at an elevation of 4,842 feet above sea level. The lumber mill operated until the production slowed and eventually stopped in the 1960s. The state then purchased the railroad and the park around it to create the Cass Scenic Railroad Stare Park in 1963.
Today you can still take the four and a half hour round trip ride to the peek at Bald Knob or two hour round trip ride Whittaker Station along the same rails used back then.
“The whole time you are on your train ride there will be a commentator talking to you about the history of the park, the history of the railroad, and things like that,” said Cass Scenic Railroad State Park Superintendent Marshall Markley. “They will point out to you specific things to the history and also talk to you about flora, fauna, the nature, and things like that. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see a black bear, it doesn’t happen every single time, but it does happen often.”
The train is pulled by the largest collection of Shay Steam Locomotives in the world. Shay locomotives are different than the typical steam locomotives we normally see in that they use steam powered pistons to turn a driveshaft similar to the ones in our cars, but much larger. This allows the engines to produce enough power to handle steep grades like the eleven percent grade up to Bald Knob.
The railroad is working to add to the current trip by creating a winter train ride into the town of Durbin.
“A lot of West Virginians and others have ridden this train many times, so this will give a new option and something different,” said Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad President John Smith. “It will be the same locomotives different type of cars, enclosed, and you’ll get a river scenery that you normally wouldn’t get here.”
Once the train trip is over there is still a lot more to see with tours through the old company store that was built in 1902. The store still has its some of its artifacts which includes an intact ice house.
“We also have our historical museum which is really cool,” said Information Specialist with the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau Tammy Shoemaker. “A lot of historical items in there and then we also have, throughout the day we will show in our historical theatre, it’s a twenty minute movie all about the history of Cass. So if you don’t have time to do the town walk and you just have a few minutes to get the history in that movie is fantastic also.”
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