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The Durbin Rocket 7/28/2018

by Chris Guenzler

We left the very nice Rose Lou Hotel in Hot Springs, Virginia and drove to Dublin, West Virginia in just over an hour.

The Durbin Rocket

The Durbin Rocket operates out of Durbin, WV, from May to October. During July and August, there are two daily services Thurs-Sun, one leaving at 10.00am and one at 2.30pm. The rides are very popular, particularly on weekends and during Fall runs.

The train is hauled by Moore Keppel 3, one of only three surviving Climax geared locomotives still operating in the world today. The five and a half mile Durbin Railroad, on which the Rocket runs, is owned by the West Virginia State Rail Authority and operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad under contract.

The D&GVR was incorporated in 1996 to bring rail excursions back to Durbin and, since then, has become one of the great American heritage railroad success stories. As well as the Rocket, the D&GVR runs other passenger and freight services in West Virginia, including the West Virginia Central Railroad and Shenandoah Valley Railroad. It operates three excursion trains out of the railroad's base in Elkins.

Our Visit

We drove through Durbin to get a feel for this place then started taking pictures of railroad equipment.

Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad caboose.

A C&O tender.

Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad caboose.

Cass Heisler3tr 6.

Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad 44 toner 5.

Another view of Cass Heisler3tr 6.

Durbin station. You cross the highway to check in.

Meadow River Heisler3Tr 7.

Playing hide and seek.

Inside the shop is Little Le Roi.

The Cass Heisler 6 backing up to reach the train. I then walked across the highway to the Rails and Trail Store to check in and get a VB written on my ticket proving I had signed in with them.I returned to the station area to watch the train pull in.

The train pulled into the station.

Two views of the front of the train in Durbin.

Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad caboose.

The rear of our train. The train consisted of Cass Heisler3tr 6, Open Air Car DGVR 204, DGVR 710 US Postal Car, DGVR 203 Covered Open Air Car and a Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad caboose. Our Our conductor and his handle is known to me from Trainorders and his handle is Appalachainrails. I asked if we could ride with him on the back platform on the caboose and he said yes!

The view before we left.

Robin took my picture before I took his picture.

I am finally aboard the Durbin Rocket for my first trip ever. The train started to move and I was now riding the Durbin Rocket. Good conversations were had with our conductor as we headed backwards down the rails.

First we backed by this box car.

Next we went by the Durbin and Greenbrier Railroad caboose on the northeast leg of the Durbin wye.

A look at the freight cars and cabooses on the northeast leg of the Durbin wye.

We are about to go through a tree tunnel.

We went by the lake in Durbin.

We came to the northwest leg of the Durbin wye.

Then ran by the concrete Milepost 95 marker.

The train crossed the bridge over the West Fork of the Greenbrier River.

West Fork of the Greenbrier River.

The train is passing through a tree tunnel.

A rural grade crossing

Taking the first of many curves on this railroad.

The Greenbrier River.

Remember Shays, Climaxes and Heislers were made for these tracks conditions.

The Greenbrier River.

More interesting tracks.

Then ran by the concrete Milepost 94 marker.

The train took another curve.

Then headed down this straight track.

One of the few open areas along this route.

The train took this curve.

Along the Greenbrier River.

You can get a picture of the engine along the line on a few curves.

Along the Greenbrier River.

More of the interesting track along the Greenbrier River.

A curve and a concrete whistlepost.

Heading to the next curve on this trip.

Crossing a small creek along our route.

A long straight-a-away.

The Greenbrier River.

Taking the curve at Elk Creek Junction.

The best curve to catch the engine on this railroad is coming into Elk Creek Junction.

A lonely house at Elk Creek Junction.

Then ran by concrete Milepost 92 marker.

The Greenbrier River.

The train crossed this water pipe.

The train went through another tree tunnel.

The train took another curve.

Then ran by the concrete Milepost 91 marker.

The train went another quarter of a mile.

We came to the Wabash Castaway Caboose. People rent this out and are brought out on an afternoon train and they spend nights here.

We pulled into Heavener station the end of the line for this train.

Future tracks when they rebuild the tracks to Cass. There was another Wabash Castaway Caboose down the tracks a way. We would be here for at least twenty minutes at Heavener station. Everyone exited the train except two ladies, one who got a cinder in her eye. Our conductor gave her some eye wash solution.

The Greenbrier River. I reboarded and told the lady two stories about cinders one in my eye from Union Pacific 3985 and my hair story from the Western Maryland steam trip. I told her to cry to get it out of her eyes. I talked to the two ladies across from me about the Amish I know in La Plata and they told me about the newly arrived Amish in West Virginia. Once everyone else was aboard the train, the train started back to Durbin with the Heisler now leading the train and a faster trip back.

On the way back a look at the engine.

The best views of the engine on this railroad.

Due to muddy water yesterday they could not water their locomotive so we stopped and for the first time ever, I saw them use a siphon hose to put water into the Heisler's tender. That was interesting to see being done. We returned to Durbin and I thanked my great conductor for his fine job of getting us back. A special thank you to Mountain Rails for having us today and to the entire Durbin Rocket train crew for a fantastic trip on their railroad. Next the trip to the Elkhorn Inn.