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Shay #6 hauls freight to Bald Knob.
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Shay #11 crosses Leatherbark Creek.
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Shay #4 and #5
Shay #4 and #5 take on water.
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Shay #11 and #6 pause in the evening at the Cass Depot.
For better or worse, logging in West Virginia has shaped both its history and the land over the past 150 years. In 1900, near the current Cass rail shops, Samuel Slaymaker and his crew started to lay track up Leatherbark Creek onto Back Allegheny and Cheat Mountains. This was not your typical rail line, but a mountain system with the purpose of bringing timber down to the mill in Cass. Grades exceeding 8 percent made this the realm of the geared locomotive, designed to handle the grades, heavy loads, tight turns and temporary track that was used in logging operations.
Sixty years later, timber operations ceased at Cass.
But the story didn’t end there. Russell Baum saw the potential of the site as a visitor attraction and with the aid of local citizens, the state legislature was approached and what would become Cass Scenic Railroad State Park was born. In 1963 the first excursions left and went to what is known today as Whittaker Station. The Shay and Heisler locomotives work the expanded Cass rail system to the town of Spruce and Bald Knob. Shay #5 has been on this site for more than 100 years starting life hauling lumber, and now the thousands of visitors to the park each year.
Cass’s 50th anniversary season begins May 24. The year’s schedule has new special runs, double headers and more. Find rates, schedule, events and more at CassRailroad.com, or call 304-456-4300.