Posts Tagged ‘Cass Scenic Railroad’

Freight Revenue Helped Get Some Tourist Railroads Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 16, 2021

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic last year are all too familiar to John Smith, president of the West Virginia-based Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad.

Based in Elkins, West Virginia, the railroad and its subsidiaries carried 84,000 passengers in 2019.

Ridership in 2020 was 22,000. Aside from the D&GV, the carrier also operates the West Virginia Central (former Western Maryland), Cass Scenic Railroad, and Durbin Rocket (former Chesapeake & Ohio Greenbrier River Branch) in West Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley Railroad (former Norfolk Southern) in Virginia.

Of those carriers, the Cass Scenic carried 14,000 and 8,000 rode the Durbin Rocket.

The New Tygart Flyer and Cheat Mountain Salamander, did not operate in 2020, largely because they use sealed-window passenger cars. The Cass Scenic and Durbin Rocket were able to run because they had open window cars.

Some tourist railroads were able to earn some extra revenue by offering freight service.

That boosted the Shenandoah Valley Railroad in particular. Some tourist railroads in 2020 were able to make money by storing freight cars for Class I railroads and private owners.

Climax Locomotive Returns to Corry

October 19, 2020

A Climax-geared steam locomotive built in Corry, Pennsylvania, in 1902 has arrived back in that city.

Locomotive A-313 arrived recently inside a shipping container from Alaska. Plans are to reassemble the locomotive and restore it to operating condition in the city that built more than 1,000 Climax locomotives between 1888 and 1928.

The container containing the 15-ton locomotive was shipped by barge to Seattle and then moved by truck across the country.

Because of the container’s high profile it had a take a circuitous route at times and obtain permits from the 10 states through which it traveled.

The engine will be displayed by the nonprofit group Corry RAILS (Rail And Industrial Legacy Society).

There are 21 Climax locomotives in existence with three known to be operational.

They include one at Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia (1919, Class C-1551), one at the White Mountain Central Railroad in New Hampshire (1920, Class B-1603), and one in Australia (1928, Class B-1694).

Climax Steam Locomotive Ready to Go at Cass

September 7, 2019

Moore-Keppel & Co. three-truck Climax No. 9 steam locomotive steamed up this week and is expected to be out for the Cass Scenic Railroad’s heritage weekend.

Restoration of No. 9 has been ongoing for 20 years although the idea of restoring the locomotive to operating condition dates back nearly 50 years.

It will be the first Climax to operate at Cass, which is better known for its fleet of geared steam Shays and a Heisler.

Cass how has all three types of the most popular North American logging railroad geared locomotives used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
No. 9 was acquired by Cass in the early 1970s but damaged in a 1972 shop fire.

It then sat derelict for several years until restoration began by a non-profit support organization.

Restoration of Cass Steam Locomotive Nearly Done

July 18, 2019

Shop workers on West Virginia’s Cass Scenic Railroad are in the final weeks of completing a restoration project to Middle Fork Climax No. 9.

The restoration, which has been underway for more than a decade, is down to the final jacketing and reassembly, Trains magazine reported.

The magazine said in a report posted to its website that exterior plumbing and jacketing is largely complete and new air tanks are expected to be installed this month.

A motion test must be completed to ensure that all items were properly installed before the reassembly of the drive shaft is completed.

Workers expect to complete the restoration project in mid August and the locomotive is expected to operate during the Rail Heritage Weekend on Sept. 6 to 8.

The event will feature runbys, freight train consists and nighttime photography opportunities.

Overseeing the restoration project are the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association and the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.

Connecting Track Opening Delayed Until Fall

June 16, 2019

The opening of a connection between two West Virginia tourist railroads has been delayed until fall.

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is building a connection with the Cass Scenic Railroad, but said project has been delayed by the need to replace a bridge.

The project, which is being overseen by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, had been progressing on schedule.

The agency is creating a design for the new bridge but work on the structure is now expected to be finished by mid-to-late fall. That will prohibit regular excursions in the fall.

The existing 40-foot bridge spans Trout Run and was damaged during flooding in 1985.

Engineers thought a new bridge could be built on the existing abutments or through a culvert-type design, but they later determined that a new structure is needed.

The state is funding and designing the new bridge.

More than 10 miles of track between Cass and Durbin has been rebuilt using more than 17,000 crossties and thousands of tons of ballast.

The connecting track between the two railroads had been expected to open during the annual Rail Heritage Weekend of  Sept. 6-8, 2019.

The weekend festival will still be held, but operations will be focused out of Durbin south and from Cass to the north, meeting at Trout Run.

For more information, go to www.mountainrail.com.

Steamer Restoration Finish Expected Soon

June 4, 2019

Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia expected to finish in less than 12 weeks the restoration of Middle Fork Climax No. 9.

Trains magazine reported that the locomotive is awaiting the arrival this week of its steam chest as well as new air tanks.

Once those parts are on hand workers will reassemble the drive shaft. The locomotive passed a boiler test last March.

Officials at the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, who oversees the Cass, expect No. 9 to appear during the Rail Heritage Weekend of Sept. 6-8.

However, no date has been announced as to when No. 9 will be under steam.

Cass to Hold Heritage Weekend in May

January 11, 2018

A three-day railfan event will be hosted May 18-20 at the Cass Scenic Railroad.

Billed as a heritage weekend, it is oriented toward railfan enthusiasts, historians, and photographers with an appreciation for geared steam locomotives and rail preservation. Tickets are $275 per person.

The opening events on May 18 include a special dinner and night photo session at Whittaker Station, the first in more than 10 years.

On Saturday, there will be a daytime photo session to Spruce, featuring steam-powered freight and passenger consists.

That evening another photo shoot will be held at Cass and feature views inside the Cass Shops and an opportunity to take photos of multiple locomotives under steam.

Railroad officials will hold a question-and-answer session and provide an update about the railroad’s restoration efforts.

On Sunday morning, an excursion will depart from Cass and travel north on the Greenbrier Line toward Durbin, West Virginia.

This route is currently under construction and is expected to connect with the southernmost end of the Durbin line in late 2018.

Passengers on the excursion will be able to inspect some of the new track.

“The revenues generated from these events directly benefit projects such as our Greenbrier Line rehabilitation and steam locomotive restorations. Our railfan community gets to enjoy and capture parts of the railroad otherwise inaccessible, and we get to earmark the funds for ongoing projects,” said Durbin & Greenbrier Business Development Manager Chase Gunnoe. “This will be unlike previous events. We’re sitting down now with our operations team and determining how we can make this most impactful for our followers who want to see something different.”

Cass No. 11 to Return to Service

July 13, 2017

This weekend will see Cass Scenic Railroad Shay No. 11 return to service after nearly a three-year absence.

No. 11 will participate in the Great Train Race celebration in Spruce, West Virginia, running alongside Western Maryland EMD BL2 No. 82, which has been repainted into the WM fireball paint scheme.

The Shay will also join Shays Nos. 2, 4, and 5 in operation at Cass this season, along with Cass Scenic Railroad Heisler No. 6 in Durbin, West Virginia.

Built in 1923 for the Hutchinson Lumber Company of Feather Falls, California, No. 11 spent much of the mid-20th century at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in San Diego before going to Cass in 1997.

During its downtime, No. 11 underwent a Federal Railroad Administration required Form IV overhaul and the replacement of the locomotive’s left and rear firebox sheets.

Workers installed several hundred new rivets and staybolts and renewed several dozen flexible staybolts.

The locomotive also received a new stack and renewed bearings on the line shaft.

D&GB Ridership Increased in 2016

January 17, 2017

Ridership on West Virginia’s Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad was 85,943 in 2016.

West VirginiaThe season runs from March through December and the preliminary figures for last year show 2,095 more passengers than the 83,848 who rode in 2015.

October was the busiest month when 21,829 rode. The corresponding number for October 2015 was 18,971.

A new holiday ride on the Cass Scenic Railroad helped to bump up patronage during the holiday season.

That train had a Christmas theme and used the former Chesapeake & Ohio Greenbrier line between Cass and Durbin.

Cass Season Extended to December

November 15, 2016

The operating season of the Cass Scenic Railroad will be extended into December with at least one steam locomotive remaining operational.

Cass ScenicOfficials with the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, which oversees Cass, said they have formed a partnership with a theater group in Elkin, West Virginia, to operate a new train, the Elf Limited, on a route that last saw a train in 1985.

The Elf Limited will use passenger cars from the Cheat Mountain Salamander. The holiday theme trains will operate between Nov. 25 and Dec. 11.

The Elf Limited will use a former Chesapeake & Ohio line from Cass to Durbin that has been undergoing rebuilding for nearly two years.