Frankly, it was pretty cool! Once upon a time, there were over 3,000 miles of logging tracks in the mountains of West Virginia. Now there are only 11, but they are 11 working miles that make up the Cass Scenic Railroad. An adventurous person can traverse all eleven miles of said tracks. We, however, skipped the four hour trip and took the shorter four mile, two hour trip to Whittaker Station. (While Little Man is an awesome baby, we thought four hours on a train might test even his patience.)
Whittaker Station is home of a recreated, authentic logging camp. And some absolutely breathtaking views.
Here in Virginia, people sometimes say derogatory things about West Virginia and its inhabitants. I think those people need to visit places like Cass. Views like this will shut anyone up.
Anyway, back to the train. Our trusty guide was locomotive #5. Shay #5. It is the second oldest Shay locomotive in existence. It has been in service since November 1905 and it weighs in at a mere 90 tons. As we climbed the 7% grade, the locomotive billowed black puffs and soot rained down on us. I can't remember exactly how many pounds of coal we shovelled into the engine to produce the steam that powered it, but if I recall correctly, it was about 1500 pounds. I remember saying to Beau that the poor man had moved the equivalent of a Ford F-150 in the course of our two hour trip. Whoa.
At each railroad crossing, and as we approached the stations, the conductor would sound the ear-piercing whistle. My super brave son only got a little perturbed by it. There was a chin quiver at one point, but for the most part, the whistle was met with a look of sheer surprise mixed with a smidge of suspicion.
But, you know little boys...they love trains. Their dads do too. Beau is already planning on taking the four and a half hour trip to Bald Knob when Little Man is old enough to geek out with him.
Here are a few more sights from the trip.
If you happen to find yourself in West Virginia (like we did twice in one week...) I highly recommend stopping in Cass for a few hours. You might be pleasantly surprised at what West Virginia has to offer. This is just one of many wonderful adventures to be had in this fine state. (Over the course of the last few years, we've also rafted the New River, hung out at the Greenbrier, and visited/skied Snowshoe, so I feel that I can make that last statement with the utmost authority.)
And, hint, we hope to have many more WV adventures.
Have you made a spur-of-the-moment stop that turned into a great little adventure? Tell me about it!