W.Va. Steam Support Group Needs Volunteers

A lack of volunteers has apparently prompted the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association to scrub a railfan weekend next year at Cass Scenic Railrod State Park in West Virginia.

The association is the non-profit volunteer arm of Cass, which operates the largest single collection of operating geared steam logging locomotives in the world.

Officials said the geared locomotives will continue to run at Cass, but the Mountain State group desperately needs additional volunteers.

“We don’t have anybody who would step up,” said Bob Hoke, the group’s treasurer in an interview with Trains magazine. “As it stands right now, much of the committee has disbanded.”

Hoke said other concerns include the cost to rent steam locomotives at Cass Scenic and other possible competing railfan events.

However, he said the lack of volunteers, particularly younger ones, has hamstrung the organization.

Hoke said he and other long-time volunteers who have served as officers would like to retire, but they are still seeking replacements.

Nonetheless, Hoke said he is optimistic about finding his own replacement soon. That person would need to be willing to work all year round and not just not during event weekends.

John Smith, president of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, which operates the Cass Scenic Railroad, said the Mountain State group has not contacted him or involved him in recent discussions about the future of railfan weekends at Cass.

Smith said the Mountain State group could be as vital to Cass Scenic as the Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec group is to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Chama, New Mexico.

“We will cooperate with Mountain State on anything they want to do,” Smith said.

However, Smith isn’t sure of the direction that the Mountain State group will go and “I’m not sure they are either.”

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