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Cass Bald Knob train trip

Adventurers in the Appalachia

My First trip on the Southwest Chief going to the 2018 NRHS Convention in Cumberland, Maryland

Chapter Nineteen

 Cass Bald Knob train trip

 August 7, 2018



Robin Bowers

Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments are appreciated

    This morning started with breakfast in the dining room of The Ramada Cumberland. They put on a nice spread and it was good to see some familiar faces from past conventions. After my fulfilling meal, I met Chris and we went to Enterprise to pick up a rental car for today's ride to Cass Bald Knob train. After the paperwork was done, Madeline T., our order writer, left to get the car and gas it up. Unfortunately this delayed us over forty minutes, time that we didn't have to spare today.  Once we got the car, a Nissan Altima, we picked up Bob and Elizabeth at the hotel and headed toward Cass. I have a feeling that today will be interesting for sure. When we first started, Chris missed the the turn to Highway 28, our main road this morning to get to Cass. Lucky for us Elizabeth was able find directions on her phone and guided Chris.This took us to a road with sign of a toll bridge ahead. When we approached the toll both, a lady sitting on a stool reached out with a water dipper attached to a long stick to take our toll. Reminded me of the collection baskets the ushers use at church. We laughed as Chris paid the toll and we looked at the bridge, but we proceeded to the bridge and drove across it very slowly hoping it would hold.

We made it across much to our glee and delight.

Potomac River.

Near Romney, WV we passed the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad which we will ride on Friday 8/10 with the convention.

Future KFC Extra Crispy?

Seneca Rocks.

    We continued down Highway 28, passing through such places as Moorefield, Petersburg, Seneca Rocks and finally Greenbank before we arrived at Cass at 11:26. MapQuest was completely correct saying it would take two hours and twenty-eight minutes to get there.

Green Bank National Radio Observatory.

A model.

The real thing. All radio signals in surrounding areas are blocked so as not to interfere with the observation. So your cell phone will not work here.   

Cass Depot and MP 0.

    Shay No. 2, a Pacific Coast Shay, was constructed in July 1928 for the Mayo Lumber Company of Paldi, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Originally a wood-burner, later converted to burn oil and then rebuilt to burn bituminous coal at Cass, No. 2 is the only known Shay to have used all three types of fuel.

    The train is almost ready to leave for Bald Knob. We stopped at the depot immediately to pick up our tickets for the noon train. Elizabeth, Bob and Chris and I were assigned to Car G with a bathroom. At noon, the train started up the grade toward Bald Knob with the engine pushing the cars from the rear.

The Cass Mill included the drying kilns, boiler house, power house and sawmill ruins can be seen to the east of the tracks.

Cass Shay 11 came from the Pacific Southwest Museum in Campo, California and was built in 1923 for the Hutchinson Lumber Company as their 3.



Cass Shay 5 is from the Greenbrier and Elk River and has been here for over 100 years in West Virginia. It was built by Lima in 1905. A West Virginia Senate Resolution declared Shay 5 the State's Official Steam Engine on March 11, 2004.

Meadow River 3 truck Shay 7 built by Lima in 1920.


The train crossed Leatherbark Creek twice.

cass rr

Black Mountain Road crossing.


Cass Shay 2 is working hard up the grade to the Black Mountain grade crossing.

Now as we travel through the woods, the train begins its climb up the grade using several switchbacks.

The 11:00am train to Whitaker with Cass Shay 4 was waiting for our train at the upper switchback.

Waiting for the other train to pass by.

Views of West Virginia hills.

The railroad yard at Whittaker.

Whittaker Station, an authentic, recreated logging camp.

Tracks on right go to Elkins on the Salamander train, about 57 miles, here at Old Spruce. Tomorrow we will take it when we travel on the Salamander with the NRHS convention.

Tender with crew taking on water at Oats Creek.

Logging spurs.

Bald Knob overlook.

Observatory radio antenna in background.

  A rental caboose.

We all reboarded the train as a rain stormed down on us making the crowd move from one side to the other in the cars as the wind and rain changed directions.

The rain and train both stopped at Whittaker.



The snack shack were the devil made be buy an ice cream sandwich which garnered looks of envy from passengers as I strolled through the cars.

Wild Heart Connector Package. Two trains - One ticket! Ride the Class Scenic Railroad and the Cheat Mountain Salamander-all in one trip.


Leaving Whittaker.

Back Mountain Road crossing Leatherbark Creek.

Arriving back in the train yard.

No 4 back in the yard. Built in 1922, this Shay began service at Birch Valley Lumber Company, Tioga, WV as their No 5. The Mower Lumber Company at Cass acquired the engine in 1943 and renumbered it to No. 4. This locomotive represents typical Lima Class 70-3 Shay locomotives constructed for West Virginia  logging operations.

No 4 has the distinction of pulling the last log train at Cass on June 30, 1960, while it was the first Shay to pull excursion trains for the Cass Scenic Railroad in June 1963.

More water for these thirsty engines.

    One last view of the Cass station for today. We will back here tomorrow and I would like to thank Cass Railroad and Mountain Rail for having us here today. The trip was really interesting and Bob, Elizabeth and Chris all loved it as much as I did. The good news is that we get to go from Cass to Old Spruce tomorrow and ride up the mountain again. We drove back via Elkins so we were able to see part of the route along the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River. We stopped at a Subway in Elkins and I picked up a Chicken Teriyaki sub to go and returned to Cumberland at 8:50 PM. We picked up NRHS convention badges and goodie bags then returned to our rooms to prepare for tomorrow's adventures.


Thanks for reading.

Next chapter 20: Cass Bald Knob train ride and then the Salamander to Elkins >>

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Text and Photos by Author

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