CASS, W.Va. — The world’s foremost roster of working Shay locomotives is chugging toward a golden anniversary in 2013.
The train line, originally built in 1901, hauled timber to the mill in the town of Cass for almost 60 years. The rail-haul logging operation and bandsaw mill ceased operations July 1, 1960.
Over the course of three years that followed, rail fans, local businessmen, legislators, various state agencies, and funding from various sources began to retool a once-thriving logging rail system and town with a vision for a tourist destination.
Shay #4 and four coaches departed the Cass depot June 15, 1963, loaded with tourists for its maiden run to the Whittaker Station destination. Cass Scenic Railroad will turn 50 on June 15. Shay #4 will again do the honors.
A brief history of Cass is posted on www.cassrailroad.com, which includes pages of information about the eight locomotives associated with the railroad.
Shay #5 was built by Lima for Greenbrier and Elk River in November 1905. This turn-of-the-century class C-80 Shay has been toiling up Cheat Mountain for over 100 years, making it one of the oldest engines in continuous service on its original line, and the second-oldest Shay in existence.
The town of Cass today remains relatively unchanged. Twenty-two of the two-story company houses are restored for rental use and may be rented year-round. The state park is located in Pocahontas County in West Virginia.
The train trips offered at Cass go to Whittaker Station; Bald Knob, West Virginia’s second-highest natural elevation; and to the former town of Spruce; and are scheduled from Memorial Weekend through the last Sunday in October.
The schedule is posted online, and available in print format by mid-November each year by calling 304-456-4300.