Cass State Park Scenic Railroad gets New Management and New Locomotive



Working Cass Locomotive


{Bell sounds}

Ah!  The peaceful sounds of church bells on a Sunday morning.

{Haunting Steam Train whistle sounds}

Whoops! I guess not. What you just heard were the sounds of a scenic steam train departing Cass Station.


$4’s cab being lifted from the delivery truck

Cass Scenic Railroad has begun its 2015 season, its first season under the management of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.  To learn about new things happening at Cass and things which have not changed, we talked with John Smith, owner of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.  He was excited about the new locomotive which had just arrived from North Carolina.

“We’re here at Cass today” said Smith. “We’re watching as they unload parts to Buffalo Creek and Gauley steam locomotive number 4. That was a locomotive that ran for years in the state and we’re repatriating it up here and plan to operate it between Cass and Durbin here in about two years.

Bracing #4’s cab

The locomotive had originally run as a coal hauler in Clay County for the Buffalo Creek and Gauley Railroad which was later consolidated with the Elk River Railroad. Later it was sent to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC where it was one of their first exhibits.  The museum recently issued a press release describing the sale to Cass and the locomotive, Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 No. 4, as a “1926 Baldwin-built steam locomotive with deep West Virginia roots”.


#4’s cab placed on ground ready to be moved to the locomotive shop

That interesting press release can be found at:

The pictures of the unloading included with this article were taken by two brothers, Don and Paul Reese on behalf of Allegheny Mountain Radio.

The locomotive will be reassembled at the Cass Railroad shop.


Cass Station

Smith was also eager to talk about the new management his railroad company is bringing to Cass Scenic Railroad.

“And the of course, all of the news is that Durbin and Greenbrier has assumed all of the railroad operations here at the Park” Smith says. “”This year the one difference that will be seen is that everyone will have a seat. The reservation system is web based and so you scan your ticket if you have an ‘I phone’, or if you just want to walk up and buy tickets at the window you’ll still get a paper ticket and have it scanned as you get on board so we know everybody’s on and we know everybody has a seat that you’re assigned a certain car. That way we have it more organized and your experience is better as far as being able to view the scenery and enjoy the ride.”

Smith mentions that the just as they did when the railroad was actually logging, locomotives will be pushing the passenger cars up the mountain which is safer and keeps the cinders from the firebox from blowing back on the passengers.

Trains right now are going to Whittaker Station 6 days a week and to Bald Knob three days. As of the third week in June, they will be going to Bald Knob as well all six days.  The Railroad will be closed on Mondays until the autumn leaf season when it will be open all seven days.

The trips to Whittaker Station will include a 30 minute layover if you want to take a picnic lunch and enjoy the view. The Mountain State Group has funding to restore the historic logging camp at Whittaker as time goes on.

Smith talks about new things for the trip to Bald Knob.

“You buy a ticket to Bald Knob and it includes a King of the Road Hobo Lunch, a substantial lunch” Smith says.  “You’ll pick that up about midway on your trip and every trip will meet the Cheat Mountain Salamander Train part the way up the mountain. The idea for this is one to exchange the lunches and two to exchange passengers who may be taking a trip from Cass and staying overnight in Elkins. They can switch trains and go on the salamander train to Elkins, or vice versa start in Elkins and stay overnight in Cass.”

Conveniently, the Durbin and Greenbrier also runs the diesel locomotive scenic Cheat Mountain/Salamander Train out of Elkins which runs from Elkins to Spruce at the same times  the Bald Mountain Trains run and they will meet at Old Spruce on every trip.

Some other changes Smith mentions are that the Park Superintendent will be keeping things open at the park later than before. Some train rides include lodging in Cass at some of the old company houses.  Smith adds that most of the former employees of the Cass State Park railroad operations have remained with his company and will now enjoy Railroad Retirement benefits

“In the Railroad retirement you’re vetted in 5 years” says Smith. “The Railroad Retirement is solvent and pays about twice Social Security and your retirement has excellent benefits. We also offer health benefits, so there was no loss as to what you (Cass Train Workers) are receiving as an employee.”

Smith says that there will be about ten special events at Old Spruce where the Salamander and the Cass Bald Knob trains will meet.  These include an “All Spam” camp over weekend, the Great Train Race,  the Pumpkin Patch and a Father’s day event.  Another related event run by the Durbin and Greenbrier include the Mountain Explorer Dinner Train in Elkins which includes Prime Rib and is prepared on the train and sometimes Murder Mysteries.

So, All Aboard!

{Train Whistle Sounds}


Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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