Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is the place for railroad enthusiasts or for taking a first train ride, especially over the Labor Day weekend.
With standard daily trips to Whittaker Station and Bald Knob, the park also has two evening train events planned, plus a new Heisler No. 6 Special Excursion for two trips only over Labor Day weekend.
Special excursions to Old Spruce and to the Spruce Town site are scheduled to be featured that weekend. Heisler No. 6 will be the featured locomotive on the 10 a.m. departures on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. Each excursion is limited to 100 passengers and requires advance reservations.
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park has scheduled a range of activities this summer and Labor Day weekend, including special train excursions.
"The Friday run features a stop at Old Spruce and a photo run-by of the Heisler," said Monica Fleming, event coordinator. "Saturday's run features the Spring Town site and this run will wait at Old Spruce to allow the Bald Knob train to pass."
Each excursion includes lunch and special entertainment by Rich Pawling. He portrays a "wood hick" in a History Alive program titled "Shays, Peaveys and Wood Hicks: Early Logging Days (Jack Hains, 1890s Logger)." Pawling's presentation will be at the Spruce stops and he also will be a passenger on each trip.
The Cass website, www.cassrailroad.com, has a detailed itinerary for the Heisler runs for each day on the events page. Each day varies for stops, lunch times and experience.
More information about Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is available at www.cassrailroad.com or 304-456-4300.
Built in 1929 for the Bostonia Coal and Clay Products Co. of New Bethlehem, Pa., Cass' Heisler No. 6 is a big, modern Heisler. Some geared locomotive historians classify it as a "West Coast Special." The Heisler was designed to do battle with Lima's Pacific Coast Shays. However, No. 6 is a standard class C-90 3 truck Heisler.
The "West Coast Special" was distinguished by piston valve cylinders and a few other items that were applied to upgrade the standard 90-3 to compete with Shay. The odd thing is that when No. 6 was built in 1929, all 90-3 Heislers were being built as West Coast Specials.
Cass Scenic Railroad bought Heisler No. 6 from the Meadow River Lumber Co. of Rainelle in 1968. Today, No. 6 lives in harmony with its Shay cousins; it has operated successfully on the Whittaker Station Train, and has been used on off-line trips because of its greater speed. It is another fine example of the last of the art of logging locomotive design and therefore an important addition to The Cass Collection.
Besides the special Heisler runs over Labor Day weekend, Cass has regular evening dinner trains and daily runs.
Most Saturday evenings at Cass, the whistle sounds and the "all aboard" tells passengers the train is ready to depart for the "Bluegrass Bar-B-Que" evening. Beginning at 5:15 p.m., this trip includes the train ride, barbecue dinner at Whittaker Station and special bluegrass music. The remaining Bluegrass Bar-B-Que evenings in 2012 are set for Aug. 25, Sept. 1, 15 and 22.
Friday evenings, visitors to this 1900s logging town will find "Rib and Rails" evening train departing at 5:15 p.m. Like Saturday's trip, dinner and music are part of the evening experience. Both evenings include a locomotive shop tour or the Cass Showcase presentation and an optional self-guided tour of Camp Whittaker. Camp Whittaker is a re-created logging camp at the Whittaker Station stop. The remaining dates for Ribs and Rails are Aug. 31 and Sept. 14.
Cass Scenic Railroad offers three trips daily to Whittaker Station. Departing from the depot at 11 a.m., and 1 and 3 p.m., the trip lasts approximately 2.5 hours. Whittaker is a midpoint on the ascent of Cheat Mountain and features a beautiful view and a re-created logging camp.
The Bald Knob Run goes to the second highest natural occurring elevation in West Virginia and is scheduled at noon on Tuesdays through Sundays and on Oct. 8. Special Fall Foliage runs are scheduled Sept. 21 through Oct. 28.
To learn more about Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, anyone interested can visit www.cassrailroad.com or call 304-456-4300.