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Joe Manchin III, Governor
Frank Jezioro, Director

News Release : April 9, 2009

 Hoy Murphy, Public Information Officer (304) 558-2003 ext. 365 hoy.r.murphy@wv.gov

Dave Caplinger, Superintendent, Cass Scenic Railroad, davecaplinger@wvdnr.gov; Andy Bennett, Assistant Superintendent, Town of Cass / Company Store, andybennett@wvdnr.gov; Fred Bartels, Trainmaster, fredbartels@wvdnr.gov
Web site: www.cassrailroad.com

A Mountain of Adventure at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

            Family fun and adventure await in the mountains of Pocahontas County, where the Cass Scenic Railroad is ready to transport you to the past and to the top of one of the highest points in West Virginia.

            Cass, W.Va., is a preserved company town dating to 1902 and was built by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company for the purpose of extracting the rich timber resources of the “Mountain State.”  This timber was transported by rail and converted to paper and lumber at Cass to help build a rapidly growing nation.

            The Cass of today boasts the world’s largest roster of operating geared steam locomotives that were common in early 20th century logging operations. The locomotives are the same Shay locomotives used in Cass, the same line built in 1901, and in the forests of British Columbia for more than half of a century. Many of the passenger cars are old logging flat-cars that have been refurbished. These massive locomotives are used to power one of the great scenic railroads of the eastern United States: Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. 

            There are more than 11 miles of remaining track, with grades of up to 10 percent, snaking up Cheat Mountain to the three trip destinations:  Whittaker Station, the Old Town of Spruce, and Bald Knob, which has an elevation of 4,842 feet, the third highest point in West Virginia. Varying daily runs are scheduled and begin May 22 through October 25, 2009.

            The train schedule is posted to the Web site: www.cassrailroad.com.

            The state park also features caboose rentals for small groups at Whittaker Station or Bald Knob and a wilderness cabin rental at Bald Knob accessed by a ¾ mile walk after you depart the train.

            “Actually, the train leaves you at the caboose or wilderness cabin area for what many come to discover, a remote adventure,” said Cass Superintendent Dave Caplinger. “The train returns to pick up the park’s mountaintop guests the next day. Reservations are required and visitors are provided with complete details for these unique overnight accommodations.”

            More than just offering train rides, the state park is also preserving America's past for the future.  Much of the infrastructure of the old company town, including the huge company store, the jail, worker’s houses, and even the barber shop are intact. Visitors can take a guided tour of the town or Cass railroad maintenance shops at no charge, dine at the Last Run Restaurant, and even stay overnight in a restored company house (circa 1902). The Company Store gift shop is open and guests to town are invited to visit the Historical Museum, see a large model railroad, and view a historical video about Cass in the logging days, again, at no charge.  A visit to Cass Scenic Railroad is an affordable adventure sure to provide long-lasting stories by family, friends or train buffs.

            “There are special trains scheduled throughout the summer in addition to daily runs,” according to Fred Bartels, Trainmaster, “We have very special events reflecting community spirit, fellowship and neighborly gatherings.”

            Special trains at Cass include Murder Mystery Train, Fiddles and Vittles Train, The Harvest Train and the Halloween Train.  “Each special train is an evening run and includes a wonderful dinner and entertainment,” says Bartels.

            The 2009 summer includes the Fiddles and Vittles special package, which is scheduled 14 times and features bluegrass music with “Allegheny Outback.”  The Harvest Train (September 26) and the Halloween Train (October 24) are one time events. Murder Mystery trains are scheduled on eight Fridays this season. In addition to being Trainmaster at Cass, Bartels is Sheriff Link Cochran in the murder mystery, “The Murder of Lumberjack Johnny Parker.”

For more information about Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, call 304-456-4300 or online, www.cassrailroad.com

There’s more!

•   About the train rides and destinations:

            The narrated train rides to Whittaker Station, Spruce, and Bald Knob feature some of the most breathtaking scenery in America with ever-changing vistas of river valleys, mountains, forests, and wildlife.

            Whittaker Station is located four miles up the track from Cass. At Whittaker Station, guests have the opportunity to leave the train and enjoy a breathtaking view of a vast wilderness area. Visitors can rest, eat lunch, and take a tour of the authentic logging camp recreated by the volunteers of the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association.

            Spruce is the site of a once bustling town, built in 1905 to meet the needs of the woodsmen working in the timber atop Cheat Mountain. It was at one time the highest town, and certainly one of the coldest, in the east, and was accessible only by train. Today, there is little evidence left of the original wooden structures. The site is along the beautiful Shaver's Fork of the Cheat. The train ride round trip is 4 ½ hours. It will also visit the Big Cut, the highest point on a standard gauge mainline railway in the east, and will stop at Whittaker Station.

            Bald Knob, at an elevation of 4,842 feet, is the third highest point in West Virginia.  Located 11 miles up the mountain from Cass, the round-trip takes 4½ hours. The Bald Knob area has a climate similar to Canada and is abundant in plants typical of the Canadian wilderness. The spectacular view from atop the overlook at Bald Knob provides a view into two states. The train will stop at Whittaker Station.

•   About Cass Scenic Railroad Murder Mystery Train: “The Murder of Lumberjack Johnny Parker”

            Climb aboard the Cass Scenic Railroad’s Murder Mystery Train and take a journey back to when Cass was a booming logging town. The year is 1920 and Pocahontas County Sheriff Link Cochran is trying to solve a murder that took place in December of 1918. He has a difficult job because, back in 1920, crime scene investigation was very limited. Such things as DNA testing, chemical analysis, and a computerized fingerprint database weren’t yet developed. In fact, not many of the other modern day tools for proving guilt or innocence were available. Sheriff Cochran must rely solely on the testimony of witnesses and any physical evidence that might exist.

            The Town of Cass was a thriving and prosperous community in the logging days.  There was money to be made by those who were willing to work very hard to earn it. This was especially true of the lumberjacks or wood hicks who worked on Cheat Mountain. They would work in the log camps for up to six months at a time. Many of them would keep track of their time in the woods by cutting notches in the brim of their hats. Then they would ride a log train down to Cass and collect their pay. 

            Their next move would be to head across the Greenbrier River to East Cass where they would usually get a bath, their first in many months, and check into a hotel. They were then ready to spend their money on alcoholic beverages (which were illegal), party with the ladies, and sit in on a friendly game of poker. Unfortunately, there were those who believed that it was their sworn duty to help the wood hicks lose their hard earned money: gamblers, con artists, drifters, derelicts, and the like were always there, waiting for an opportunity to do just that. The unlucky wood hick, who is the subject of this murder investigation, could have been the victim of one of the above mentioned characters.

            The Sheriff really needs help in solving this case. Guests on the mystery train will meet some citizens of Cass that might know something about the murder.  Listen carefully to the testimonies of “Sam Davis,” the games of chance specialist, “Sarah Dudley,” moonshine distributor, “Hannah Bailey,” proprietor of the River View Hotel, “Rachel Smith,” waste management technician for the Town of Cass, “Horton Johnson,” purveyor of fine goods, and “Eliza Crawford,” entertainment director for the lonely logger. 

            Sheriff Link is also prepared to give guests the opportunity to interrogate the witnesses in an effort to obtain as much information as possible. At the conclusion of the testimonies, anyone could be the sleuth that breaks this case wide open and the guilty party can finally be brought to justice.


            The murder mystery is written, produced, and portrayed by employees and volunteers at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.  All rights reserved.

•   About Cass Historic Lantern Tours

            “A guided lantern tour through the very streets and alleyways where the residents of Cass walked when the town was a booming logging community is a very special time,” says Dave Caplinger, Superintendent at Cass Scenic Railroad.  “The stories, tales, and legends blended with bits of human interest and historical fact make the walk both entertaining and educational.”

            The Cass Historic Lantern Tours are available on selected evenings. The tours are based on historical fact and may also include experiences and observations made by various people over the years. “There won’t be anyone jumping out to scare visitors and special effects of any kind are not used.”

            The Historic Lantern Tours are designed for small groups of up to 15 people. Tours are not suitable for children under the age of 10 and all children must be accompanied by an adult. The Tour takes about 45 minutes, and the walk is not strenuous, but it does include walking through the town of Cass. Guests should wear comfortable shoes and consider the typically cooler temperatures of Cass. The tour guide provides safety guidelines.

            The tours are offered at no charge. Small groups may schedule private tours but these must be scheduled well in advance.

•  About new reserved seat coaches at Cass Scenic Railroad: Leatherbark Creek Car and the recent addition: Greenbrier River Car

            The Cass Scenic Railroad State Park has recently completed work on its second reserved seat coach. The new coach is called “Greenbrier River” and will be used on the Whittaker Station Trains. The “Greenbrier River” coach seats 40 passengers and allows everyone to enjoy the spectacular scenery in comfort. The coach features brass railings around the entire seating area and arched valances along the roof line. The brakeman assigned to the coach will also assist passengers in locating their reserved seats. From the moment the passengers see the exterior of the coach, visitors opting to upgrade to reserved seating will be pleased.

            The “Greenbrier River” joins its counterpart, “Leatherbark Creek,” which operates on the Bald Knob and Spruce trains, offering passengers the option of choosing a reserved seat for the entire trip.

            The cost of selecting a reserved seat on any train is only $5 more than the cost of a regular ticket.  For information about Cass Scenic Railroad, train rides, special cars or group information, contact Cass at 304-456-4300 or check out the Web site at www.cassrailroad.com.