A RIDE on the Cass Scenic Railroad is a thrilling experience for young and old who may never have seen a steam locomotive. Both are filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation as they approach the old Cass Depot to get tickets from the Agent for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Aboarrrrd”! With a clang, Clang, CLANG of the bell and CHUG, Chug, chug of pistons, the train lurches forward to begin a memorable, spine tingling ride.
STEEL wheels clickety-click in increasing tempo as the train picks up speed on the same standard gauge rails over which more than ONE BILLION board feet of lumber and an equal volume of pulpwood were shipped during the early part of the century, testimony to the vastness and incalculable wealth of this once virgin timber stand.
From the open observation coaches, passengers may drink in the unfolding panorama of remote and beautiful West Virginia scenery, or catch an occasional glimpse of wildlife scurrying away from the huffing, puffing iron monsters. POWERFUL engines easily push the cars up grades averaging four to five per cent, and at times an astonishing 10%. Two of the few remaining switchbacks anywhere in the US afford added excitement on the road, one of the highest non-cog railroads east of the Rocky Mountains.
The Greenbrier Express – West Virginia’s Newest Train Ride – The original 95-mile section of this railroad was first constructed in 1902 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway with an eye toward timber resource development. It continued serving that purpose until rail traffic declined and most of the line was abandoned in 1978. Today’s Greenbrier Express trip takes you on the northernmost 15-mile portion that was purchased by the West Virginia State Rail Authority. Unfortunately, a catastrophic flood in 1985 washed out major portions of this line. Thanks to a private/public initiative between the WV State Rail Authority and Durbin & Greenbrier Valley RR, the track has been reconstructed and now offers a new and different option to visitors at the iconic Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.
Ride To The Top!
BALD KNOB – The long haul of 11 miles to Bald Knob takes about four and a half hours for the 22-mile round trip. Panoramas of the lofty Appalachians become more beautiful as the train climbs higher and higher. Passengers suddenly realize they are entering a completely different world, mainly because of the change in trees, flowers and atmosphere. By climbing the 2,390 feet from Cass (2452-feet) to Bald Knob (4842-feet) on Back Allegheny Mountain and second highest point in West Virginia, passengers have made the equivalent to an 800 mile trip to Canada in climate because of the higher altitude. Here are found spruce trees, snowshoe hares and other plants and animals typical in the far north. The rustic overlook affords one of the most awesome, overwhelming spectacles in the cast. Dwarfed by distance and almost lost in the vastness of the panorama is the giant Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope, at the Green Bank Observatory in the valley near the foot of the mountain. A remarkable contrast between the wilderness at Bald Knob and today’s space-age facilities!
The Journey Continues!
Greenbrier Express – New for 2023, the Greenbrier Express (GBX) train departs from the restored, historically important town of Cass and closely follows the clear, free-flowing Greenbrier River to the small mountain village of Durbin. On arrival in Durbin, all ticket holders will be served lunch at a pre-determined location either on your train car, in the depot, or at one of the restaurants on Main Street adjacent to the depot. The ride upriver to Durbin passes through a secluded wilderness portion of the 950,000-acre Monongahela National Forest featuring beautiful scenes of forested mountains at each turn of the river. Sightings of Deer, River Otters, and Black Bear along with a wide variety of Eagles, Hawks, Ospreys, and other species of birds are common.