Steam engines {c81ca3f6b47d12e1c39c99c5f24f4a0138260dd15eaf7743f5d45e15c35b5b24}22doubleheading{c81ca3f6b47d12e1c39c99c5f24f4a0138260dd15eaf7743f5d45e15c35b5b24}22 up the mountain on the Cass Scenic Railroad

Shay Engines No. 5 and No. 6 “Doubleheading” up Cheat Mountain-Cass Scenic Railroad West Virginia

I grew up on the Kentucky and West Virginia border, close to the mighty Tug River. As I would go to sleep each night, I would wait for the sound of the trains horn as it echoed from the West Virginia side. When I heard it, I knew it was time to nod off to sleep.

But more than once I dreamed about hitching a ride aboard that train’s red caboose. In my dreams, I would be waving goodbye as everything disappeared down the line. I still havent given up on the idea of catching a ride on a real red caboose, and now I know where — on the Cass Scenic Railroad. I’ll tell you more about this in a minute, but first, lets talk about the history of this fantastic railroad.

History of the Cass Scenic Railroad

If you visit the small town of Cass, WV, youll find that little has changed since its beginning in 1901. The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company started it as a company town. The town provided a home for the hard-working loggers that made their living in those mountains.

The construction of the railroad started at the same time as the town. Before long, it was hauling lumber to the mill at Cass. Over time the railroad line grew, and soon it reached all the way to the top of Bald Knob. This expansion was no easy feat since Bald Knob is the third highest peak in the state of West Virginia.

Things went well for a while, but in 1942 the Cass operation sold to the Mower Lumber Company. The mill and the railroad remained in service until 1960. At that time, the decline of the timber industry took its toll on the small town of Cass, and the company shut down. The state park, seeing a great opportunity, brought Cass into its system in 1961. By 1977 the entire town was part of the state park system. Since then, the railroad has become a tourist destination like many of the restored trains and rail systems throughout Appalachia.

Riding the Rails Up the Mountain and Into the Past

Today you can have an adventure on the Cass Scenic Railroad. Its most popular ride is the four and a half hour train trip to the overlook at Bald Knob. There you can take in the breathtaking view that only the third highest point in West Virginia can offer. The same steam-powered engines that have run the line for over a century still powers the train. The trip runs up and down the Back Allegheny Mountain. You’ll find that the land hasn’t changed much since the railroad began.

There are other excursions offered, including dinner train rides and special packages throughout the year. The Cass Scenic Railroad sits right on Historic Route 66, so you cant miss it. Since the journey for each trip takes some time, there is only one each day for that type of excursion. Youll also want to be sure to get there early because the latest they pull out from the station is 2:00 pm. When you go, plan on sticking around for a while. You’ll find that there is a whole state park at Cass, with all kind of fun activities to enjoy.

Castaway Caboose

Now let me tell you why the Cass Scenic Railroad has such a unique attraction for me. The train ride itself is enough to delight anyone, which goes without saying. But they have something for that memory from yesteryear that has all but disappeared. Yes, I am talking about the red caboose.

For a reasonable fee, you can cozy up in a modified caboose. They will pull you up into the mountains at one of two locations, and leave you there for a couple of fun days. You’ll be waving goodbye as the train unhooks and abandons you for the duration. The Castaway Caboose has all the comforts of home, with a shower, kitchen, and full-size restroom. They even give you firewood so that you can enjoy a campfire from the comforts of your secret caboose hideaway.

You can find out more about taking a trip aboard the Cass Scenic Railroad on the website. While there, be sure to check out their seasonal and holiday excursions. But as for me, I have a caboose adventure to schedule.

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