Cass Scenic Railroad Celebrates 50 years!

On June 30, 1960, the final Mower Lumber Co. log train rolled off of Cass Hill and the Cass Mill fell forever silent the following morning. Shortly there after, Midwest Raleigh began the task of scrapping the logging railroad. Luckily, some railfans and local businessmen stepped up and brought attention of the scenic, former logging line to the West Virginia legislature. The scrapping was halted so the legislature could make a trip to Cass to view the railroad and to discuss turning it into a scenic railroad. Long story short, the railroad, along with three Shay locomotives, rolling stock, mill and locomotive shop was saved and a tourist railroad was born. Fast-forward nearly three years later to June 15th, 1963, the very first regularly scheduled Cass tourist train left the Cass depot with Shay #4 and engineer Clyde Galford at the throttle. The destination was Upper Gum Field, later renamed Whittaker Station, with dozens of excited passengers. The price of a ticket you might ask? $2.00 for adults, and $1.00 for children 12 and under!ImageFifty years, and a couple million passengers later, the Cass Scenic Railroad still remains true to its roots. Although there have been many changes over the years, Shay and Heisler geared logging locomotives still travel up the steep grades of Cass Hill nearly every day from Memorial day through October.

On June 15th, 2013 at 10:30am, 50 years to the day and hour, Shay #4, with engineer Gary Cassell and fireman Chris Lambert, along with a little help from Shay #5, with engineer Brad Hoover and fireman Derek Hannah, left the Cass depot with a train full of passengers to Whittaker Station. This began what is hopefully another 50 successful years of trains traversing Cass Hill.ImageShay #4 featured a special Cass, Greenbrier, Cheat & Bald Knob Scenic Railroad lettering scheme for this special trip. The scheme paid tribute to the very first name of the tourist railroad ran during a special trip chartered by the C.P. Huntington Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society trip during April of 1961 with Shay nos. 4 and 1 powering the train. The logo was actually a special magnet applied to the water tank, and was the result of hard work by Phil Martin, who digitally re-designed the unique lettering, as well as Tim Martin, James Newhouse, and myself. A big thanks also goes to the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association for providing the funds to purchase the magnets. It was truly a group effort and I cannot thank them enough for all their help!ImageShay #4 arrives at the Cass depot as eager passengers prepare to board the train.ImageCurrent Cass Superintendent Scott Fortney along with the very first Cass Superintendent Ben Dickens cut a celebratory ribbon while two Pocahontas County representatives look on.

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ImageThe anniversary train departs Cass.ImageThe doubleheaded Shay duo belch smoke as they pass through Gum Field.ImageThe train arrives at Whittaker Station.ImageShays #4 and #5 sit at Whittaker shortly after arriving.ImageImageTrain crews and dignitaries pose in front of Shay #4 following the return of the 50th Anniversary trip to Whittaker Station.ImageShay #4 is topped off with water on the day following the 50th Anniversary before making the trip to Bald Knob.ImageShay #4 passes the emergency water tank below Bald Knob.ImageImageShay #4 heads back to Cass following the photo runbys.

Be sure to “like” my Facebook page devoted to my photography where you can stay up to date on recent shoots.

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