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Experience the Charm of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

If you want a unique and memorable way to explore West Virginia, consider visiting Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. This park preserves the history and heritage of a lumbering town and a scenic train ride to the Bald Knob overlook. You can enjoy the views, the art, the dining, and the activities at this park, one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions. This article will tell you everything you need to know about Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, from its history and culture to its points of interest and tips for visitors.

Image of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

The History of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park was founded in 1901 by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company as a company town for the loggers who worked in the nearby mountains. The railroad was used to haul lumber to the mill at Cass. It was eventually extended to the top of Bald Knob, the third-highest mountain peak in West Virginia. The railroad used steam-driven locomotives specially designed to handle the mountain terrain’s steep grades and sharp curves.

In 1942, the Cass operation was sold to Mower Lumber Company, which operated the town until 1960, when the mill and railroad were shut down due to the rapid decline of the timber industry in the region. 1961 Cass was brought into the state parks system, and in 1977, the company town was also made part of the parks system. Over the years, the railroad was turned into a tourist line, and the town was repaired and restored. Today, the railroad is still in full operation and is managed by the Durbin Greenbrier Valley Railroad.

Image of a Train in the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

The Culture around Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is more than just a park. It is also a living museum that showcases the life and work of a lumbering community in the early 20th century. You can stay in one of the restored company houses once home to the workers and their families. You can also visit the Cass Historical Theater and Museum, where you can learn more about the history of Cass and see exhibits of artifacts, photographs, and memorabilia. You can also enjoy local arts and crafts at the artisan’s co-op, where you can find handmade items such as pottery, quilts, jewelry,, and more.

One of the highlights of visiting Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is riding on one of the historic steam locomotives that take you on a scenic journey through the mountains. You can choose from different excursions that vary in length and destination, such as Bald Knob, Whittaker Station or Spruce. Along the way, you can admire the stunning views of the forest, valleys, and peaks and listen to the narration of your conductor, who will tell you stories and facts about Cass and its railroad.

What can you find in Cass Scenic Railroad State Park?

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is where you can find natural beauty and historical charm. Here are some of the things you can find in this park:

  • Bald Knob: This is the highest point on Cass Scenic Railroad State Park’s rail line, at an elevation of 4,842 feet. It offers spectacular views of West Virginia’s countryside and a glimpse of two radio telescopes: one from Green Bank Observatory and one from NRAO.
  • Whittaker Station: This is a recreated logging camp that features an old sawmill, a log loader, a log skidder, and other equipment loggers use in Cass. It also has a picnic area where you can enjoy snacks or lunch.
  • Spruce: This ghost town was once a bustling logging community with over 300 residents. It was abandoned in 1959 when Mower Lumber Company closed its operations. Today, you can see some of its remaining buildings and learn about its history.
  • The Last Run Restaurant: This is a restaurant located in the Company Store that serves delicious food such as burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, and more. It also has a soda fountain where you can enjoy ice cream or treats.
  • The Company Store: This is a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs such as t-shirts, hats, mugs, books, toys, and more. It also has an information desk where you can get maps, brochures, and tickets for the train rides.

Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about Cass Scenic Railroad State Park that you might not know:

  • The railroad uses Shay locomotives, geared steam engines that can handle steep grades and sharp curves better than conventional locomotives. They are named after their inventor, Ephraim Shay, who patented his design in 1881.
  • The railroad has a total of six Shay locomotives, four of which are operational and two of which are on display. The oldest one is Shay No. 2, built in 1905, and the second oldest Shay locomotive. The newest one is Shay No. 11, built in 1923 and the heaviest and most powerful Shay locomotive ever built.
  • The railroad also has a Heisler locomotive, which is another type of geared steam engine that was developed as a competitor to the Shay locomotive. It is named after its inventor, Charles Heisler, who patented his design in 1892. The Heisler locomotive at Cass is No. 6, built in 1929 and is the only operating Heisler locomotive in the world.
  • The town of Cass was named after Joseph Kerr Cass, who was the vice president of West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company. He was also a cousin of Lewis Cass, who was a prominent politician and diplomat who served as governor of Michigan, senator from Michigan, secretary of war, secretary of state and presidential candidate.
  • The town of Cass had its own currency, called scrip, which was issued by the company and could only be used at the company store or other company-owned businesses. The scrip came in denominations of 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents and 1 dollar.

Advice for Visitors

If you are planning to visit Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, here are some tips and advice that might help you make the most of your trip:

When is it open?

The park is open year-round, but the train rides operate from May to October. The train schedule varies depending on the season and the destination, so it is advisable to check the website or call ahead for the latest information. You can also make reservations online or by phone.

What to wear?

The weather at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park can change quickly and dramatically, especially at higher elevations. It is recommended to dress in layers and bring a jacket or sweater, as well as a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. You might also want to bring some rain gear or an umbrella, just in case.

Is it family-friendly?

Yes, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is a great place for families with children of all ages. The train rides are fun and educational, and the park offers plenty of activities and attractions that kids will enjoy. There are also playgrounds, picnic areas and restrooms available.

When is it best to visit?

There is no bad time to visit Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, as each season offers something different and beautiful. However, some of the most popular times are during the fall foliage season, when the leaves turn into vibrant colors; during the summer season, when the weather is warm and sunny; and during special events such as Halloween trains or Christmas trains.

A Trip Through West Virginia Landmarks to Castle Floor Coatings

Via I-64 W and I-64 W/I-77 N

The Greenbrier

101 W Main St, White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986, United States

  1. Get on I-64 W from US-60 W/Midland Trail E
    1. Head southeast toward Greenbrier Dr/Springhouse Ln
    2. Continue onto Greenbrier Dr/Springhouse Ln
    3. Continue to follow Springhouse Ln
    4. Turn right onto US-60 W/Midland Trail E
    5. Turn left onto Harts Run Rd
  2. Turn right to merge onto I-64 W toward Beckley
    1. Merge onto I-64 W
    2. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N toward Charleston
    3. Take exit 79 toward Sharon/Cabin Creek Rd
  3. Turn left onto Access/Sharon Hollow Rd/Sharon Hollow Rd Access
    1. Turn left at the 2nd cross street onto Cabin Creek Rd
    2. Destination will be on the right

Eksdale, West Virginia, C&O Coal Tower

220 Back St, Eskdale, WV 25075, United States

  1. Head north on Cabin Creek Rd
  2. Turn right onto Access/Sharon Hollow Rd/Sharon Hollow Rd Access
  3. Turn left onto the 64 W/77 N ramp
  4. Merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N
  5. Take exit 97 for US-60 W/Kanawha Blvd toward Midland Trl
  6. Continue onto US-60 W/Kanawha Blvd E
  7. Destination will be on the right

West Virginia State Capitol

1900 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25305, United States

  1. Follow I-79 N and US-19 S to Birch River. Take the WV-82 exit from US-19 S
    1. Head west on US-60 W toward WV-114 N
    2. Turn right onto US-60 W/WV-114 N/Greenbrier St
    3. Continue to follow WV-114 N/Greenbrier St
    4. Turn left to merge onto I-64 W/I-77 N toward I-79
    5. Use the right 2 lanes to take the I-77 N exit toward I-79/Parkersburg
    6. Continue onto I-77 N
    7. Keep right at the fork to continue on I-79 N, follow signs for Clarksburg
    8. Take exit 57 toward Beckley
    9. Merge onto US-19 S
  2. Take the WV-82 exit toward Birch River/Cowen
    1. Turn left onto WV-82 E/Birch River Rd
    2. Continue straight onto Howard Farm
    3. Continue onto Old Birch River Rd
    4. Turn right onto 1st St W/Erbacon Rd
    5. Continue to follow Erbacon Rd
    6. Turn left onto WV-20 N/Webster Rd
    7. Continue to follow WV-20 N
    8. Turn right onto Co Rte 15/4
    9. Turn right onto WV-15 E/Point Mountain Rd
    10. Continue to follow WV-15 E
  3. Turn right onto US-219 S/Seneca Trail
    1. Turn left onto WV-66 E
    2. Turn left to stay on WV-66 E

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

12363 Cass Rd, Cass, WV 24927, United States

  1. Head southwest on WV-66 W toward Deer Creek Rd
  2. Turn right onto US-219 N/Seneca Trail
    1. Turn left onto US-219 N/US-250 N/Seneca Trail
    2. Continue straight onto WV-92 N
    3. Slight left onto US-250 N/US-33 W/US-48
    4. Turn right onto US-250 N
  3. Turn right onto WV-92 N/Morgantown Pke
  4. Continue to follow WV-92 N
  5. Turn left onto US-50 W
  6. Turn right onto WV-92 N
    1. Turn left onto Gladesville Rd
    2. Turn right to stay on Gladesville Rd
  7. Turn right onto US-119 N/Grafton Rd
    1. Turn left onto the ramp to I-79/Fairmont
    2. Merge onto I-68 W
    3. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-79 N toward Washington
    4. Keep left to stay on I-79 N
    5. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto I-70 W/I-79 N toward Washington
    6. Continue to follow I-70 W
    7. Keep right at the fork to stay on I-70 W
    8. Keep left to stay on I-70 W
    9. Take exit 225 for OH-7 toward Bridgeport
    10. Turn left onto Marion St
    11. Turn left to merge onto I-70 E toward Wheeling

Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Wheeling, WV 26003, United States

  1. Head east on I-70 E
  2. Take exit 1A for US-40 E/WV-2 N/Main St toward Downtown
  3. Merge onto US-40 E/WV-2 S/Main St
  4. Continue to follow WV-2 S/Main St
  5. Turn left onto 16th St/Greater Wheeling Trail
  6. Continue to follow 16th St
  7. Turn left onto Market St
  8. Destination will be on the right

West Virginia Independence Hall

1528 Market St, Wheeling, WV 26003, United States

  1. Get on I-70 E
    1. Head north on Market St toward 15th Pl
    2. Keep left to continue on Lane 38
    3. Merge onto I-70 E via the ramp to Washington
  2. Merge onto I-70 E
    1. Take the exit onto PA-43 S
    2. Use the right 2 lanes to merge onto US-119 S toward PA-43 S/Morgantown
    3. Keep left to continue on US-119 S/US-40 E
    4. Use the left 2 lanes to take the US-40 E exit toward Hopwood
  3. Get on I-68 E/US-40 E in Garrett County
    1. Continue onto US-40 E
    2. Turn right to stay on US-40 E
    3. Use the right lane to merge onto I-68 E/US-40 E via the ramp to US-219 N/Cumberland
  4. Merge onto I-68 E/US-40 E
    1. Continue onto Exit 82C (signs for I-70 W/US-522 N/Breezewood)
    2. Use the right lane to keep right at the fork and continue on Exit 82B
  5. Keep right to continue on Exit 82A, follow signs for US-522 S/Hancock/Winchester, and merge onto US-522 S
    1. Merge onto US-522 S
    2. Turn right onto Fairfax St
    3. Fairfax St turns left and becomes Cornelius Ave
    4. Destination will be on the left

Museum of the Berkeley Springs

2 Fairfax St, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411, United States

  1. Take Fairfax St to S Washington St
    1. Head northeast on Cornelius Ave toward Fairfax St
    2. Cornelius Ave turns right and becomes Fairfax St
  2. Turn right onto S Washington St
  3. Get on I-81 S in Berkeley County
    1. Turn left onto WV-9 E/Martinsburg Rd
    2. Continue to follow WV-9 E
    3. Use the right lane to take the ramp to Winchester
  4. Merge onto I-81 S
    1. Take exit 12 for WV-45 E toward WV-9 E/Winchester Ave/Charles Town
    2. Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto WV-45 E
    3. Continue onto WV-9 E
    4. Use the right lane to take the US-340 N/WV-51 W ramp to Charles Town/Harpers Ferry
    5. Turn left onto US-340 N/William L Wilson Fwy
  5. Drive to Shenandoah St
    1. Turn left onto Shenandoah St
    2. Continue straight to stay on Shenandoah St
    3. Destination will be on the right

John Brown’s Fort

814 Shenandoah St, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, United States

  1. Head southwest on Shenandoah St toward Potomac St
  2. Turn left onto US-340 E/William L Wilson Fwy
  3. Continue to follow US-340 E
    1. Take exit 10 for interstate 70 E toward I-270/Baltimore/Washington
    2. Merge onto I-70 E
    3. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 53 to merge onto I-270 S toward Washington
    4. Take exit 31B for MD-85 S toward Buckeystown
  4. Continue onto MD-85 S/Buckeystown Pike
    1. Pass by McDonald’s (on the right in 0.4 mi)
    2. Turn right onto Executive Way
    3. Turn right onto Macon St
    4. Turn left onto Proclamation Pl
    5. Destination will be on the right

Castle Floor Coatings – Garage Coatings & Concrete driveway sealers

7180 Proclamation Pl, Frederick, MD 21703, United States