Posts Tagged ‘Cheat Mountain Salamander’

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.

Durbin & Greenbrier Expanding Excursions

January 12, 2015

West Virginia tourist railroad Durbin & Greenbrier Valley has announced that it will offer new feature train excursions and an expanded operating season in 2015

The Elkins, W.Va.-based railroad, which began operating the Cass Scenic Railroad as part of a lease agreement between the West Virginia Rail Authority and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources on Jan. 1, will begin its season in April with excursions and activities at its Elkins, Durbin, and Cass operations this year.

On April 4, the railroad’s season will kick off with an Easter “Cottontail Express” excursion at the Elkins Station. On April 25 in Durbin, the railroad’s steam operations will begin with weekend excursions featuring former Moore & Keppel Climax No. 3.

On May 19, steam excursions at the railroad’s Cass operation will begin with Tuesday-through-Sunday trips to Whittaker. Beginning May 22, weekend passenger excursions to Bald Knob will be offered through June 7, until a comprehensive and expanded summer schedule is announced.

The railroad is offering this year a new “Wild Heart of West Virginia Adventure Package” that allows passengers to ride behind steam and diesel powered trains on a two-day segment connecting Elkins and Cass.

From Elkins, passengers will ride to Old Spruce on the railroad’s Cheat Mountain Salamander excursion, a 64-mile trip that follows the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River through High Falls, Cheat Bridge, into Spruce and on to Old Spruce.

Once at the Cass interchange in Old Spruce, passengers will switch over to Cass rails, riding behind a geared Shay locomotive to Bald Knob before descending into downtown Cass for an overnight stay. On the following day, passengers will return to Elkins via the same routing. Riders can choose to depart from Cass, too.

The new excursion service will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning Memorial Day weekend.

In celebration of the inaugural service a there will be in Spruce a Mountain Music Trail picnic and concert. Passengers will be able to transfer trains at this Spruce location, but only during special-event dates. In June, the schedule will extend to include Thursday and Friday.

“The new partnership opens added opportunity to connect the rail line from Elkins to Cass, not only opening a brand-new excursion for 2015, but creating the opportunity to feature new special events and new overnight options,” Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Packaging Specialist Matt Scott said in a news release. “With the ability to connect rail lines, we can now offer a brand new product to the group tour market.”

The railroad plans to use the connected rail lines for additional special excursions throughout this season. For more information, visit