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See WV: Rail Excursions

Trains that once transported coal, timber, and other materials now take tourists up steep West Virginia mountains and through narrow valleys that, in some cases, can be accessed only by rail.

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is the premier location for excursion trains in West Virginia. Located between Dunmore and Green Bank in Pocahontas County, it is accessible by State Route 28/92N or an 11-mile connector route, W.Va. 66, between Cass and U.S. 219 at Slatyfork. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so there may be more riders than seats.

The state park offers three trips: Cass to Whittaker Station, Cass to Bald Knob, and Cass to Spruce, all at grades so steep that switchbacks are necessary.

The Cass Scenic Railroad State Park trains are made up of Shay steam locomotives used in Cass when it was a logging town and old logging flat cars that have been refitted to carry people. The locomotives include a Shay No. 2, Shay No. 4, Shay No. 5, Shay No. 6. Shay No. 7, Shay No. 11, Feather River No. 3, Heisler No. 6, and a Climax No. 9.

Restored company houses in Cass may be rented as vacation cottages. The town includes a company store, restaurant, free museum, train depot, and locomotive shop. Visitors may watch an orientation film, see a diorama, and take tours of the town.

The Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad, also known as Mountain Rail Adventures, is building a network of train excursions through central West Virginia. All but the Durbin Rocket leave from Elkins, in Randolph County, while the Durbin Rocket leaves from Durbin, in Pocahontas County. For information and reservations about the company’s trips, call 1-877-686-7245 or visit the company’s website. Trains generally operate April through October, except for The Polar Express, which runs in November and December only. All trains travel through the Monongahela National Forest.

There are also two fall foliage train excursions in West Virginia, one on the eastern slope of the Alleghenies and one on the western slope. In the east, the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad in Romney, Hampshire County, offers a three-and-a-half-hour ride as well as an all-day trip to and from Moorefield, with a rest stop in Petersburg. On the Potomac Eagle, passengers are likely to spot bald eagles while the train travels through Potomac Highland valleys and along the along the South Branch of the Potomac River. The Potomac Eagle generally is run by a combination of four General Motors locomotives: a Baltimore & Ohio GP-9 No. 6604, Chessie System GP-9 No. 6240, Potomac Eagle F7A No. 722, and a Chesapeake & Ohio F3Au No. 8016. Most trips include at least one open-air car, regular passenger coaches, an air-conditioned snack bar car, and first-class cars.

The Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society in Huntington operates day trips during two weekends in October on a former Chesapeake & Ohio rail line through the New River Gorge. One of the Saturday trips takes place on Bridge Day, the only day of the year during which base jumping and rappelling is allowed off the New River Gorge Bridge. The train passes underneath the bridge on its way to and from Hinton, the end-point on the trip from Huntington. Passengers also can board in Charleston. In addition, the railroad society offers day trips and overnight excursions to the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs as well as multi-day excursions to Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. Passengers on those trips travel and dine in the society’s own cars, which are attached to the back of Amtrak trains.

Written by Jennifer Bundy

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  2. Cass Scenic Railroad (
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