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Greenbrier Express Cass to Durbin and return 6/15/2023

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I arose and after our morning preparations, we checked out and drove to Denny's Restaurant for breakfast, after which I drove us to Cass and parked.

Greenbrier Express Information

Cass is the home to the world's largest fleet of geared Shay locomotives. Five Shays, one Heisler,and one Climax reside here. The legendary turn-of-the-century class C-80 Shay, 5 has been toiling up Cheat Mountain for 115 years, making it one of the oldest engines in continuous service on its original line and the oldest operable Shay in existance.

Trip Summary

The Greenbrier Express train departs from the restored, historically important town of Cass and closely follows the clear, free-flowing Greenbrier River to the small mountain village of Durbin. On arrival in Durbin, all ticket holders will be served lunch at a pre-determined location either on your train car, in the depot or at one of the restaurants on Main Street adjacent to the depot. The ride upriver to Durbin passes through a secluded wilderness portion of the 950,000-acre Monongahela National Forest featuring beautiful scenes of forested mountains at each turn of the river. Sightings of deer, river otters and black bear along with a wide variety of eagles, hawks, ospreys and other species of aquatic birds are common.

The original 95-mile section of this railroad was first constructed in 1902 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway with an eye toward timber resource development. It continued serving that purpose until rail traffic declined and most of the line was abandoned in 1978. Today's trip takes you on the northernmost 15-mile portion that was purchased by the West Virginia State Rail Authority. Unfortunately, a catastrophic flood in 1985 washed out major portions of this line. Thanks to a private/public initiative between the West Virginia State Rail Authority and Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, the track has been reconstructed and now offers a new and different option to visitors at the iconic Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.

Our Trip

We picked up our tickets with a colored sticker which denoted where we would be having lunch in Durbin, then there were picture to be taken.

Cass Railway three truck shay 2, ex. Cass Scenic Railroad 2 1970, exx. Railway Appliance Research Limited 114 at North Vancouver, British Columbia 1964, exxx. Western Forest Industries 5 1946 at Honeymoon Bay, British Columbia, exxxx. Lake Logging Company 5 1943 at Cowichan Lake, British Columbia, exxxxx. Mayo Lumber Company 4 at Paldi, British Columbia, nee built for stock built by Lima Locomotive Works in 1928.

Built as a wood burner, it was converted to burn oil before going to Mayo Lumber and then rebuilt to burn coal at Cass. It is the only known Shay to have used all three types of fuel. 2 ended its career switching cars on the Vancouver docks in 1970, making it one of the last commercially operated Shays in the world.

The train was almost ready to go. We boarded car 835 and with a toot of the whistle, we started rolling towards Durbin.

Now sit back, relax and enjoy the views from the Greenbrier Express from Cass to Durbin.

The views on the way to Durbin with a much lower and slower-flowing Greenbrier River than when we rode the inauguraul train over the line during the 60th Anniversary Railfan event on May 6. Upon arrival,we walked across the street to the Simply Sweet Cafe where we rolls, cold cuts, lettuce, tomato, onion and condiments were waiting for us, as well as potato chips, apple sauce, macaroni salad and cookies. After a fulflling meal, we walked back to the train in a light drizzle and reboarded.

I hope you enjoyed the trip on the Greenbrier Express. Now for the steam engines as we returned to Cass.

Graham County Railroad three truck Shay 1926, ex. Michael Miller at New Centerville, Pennsylvania, exx. Bear Creek Railroad "Ole Sidewinder" 1966, exxx. Graham County Railroad 1926 at Robbinsville, North Carolina, exxx. Knox Power Company in Nantahala, North Carolina, nee Tallahassee Power Company 10 at Calderwood, Tennessee, built by Lima Locomotive Works in 1926.

In 1968, its cab and water tank was used to repair shay 1925.

Meadow River Lumber Shay three truck 7, ex. State of West Virginia (Cass Scenic Railroad 7) in 1964, exx. Meadow River Lumber Company 7 at Rainelle, West Virginia in 1937, nee Raine Lumber Company 3 at Clover Lick, West Virginia, built by Lima Locomotive Works in 1920.

Agnew Lumber Company three truck Shay 3, ex. Puget Sound Railway Historical Association donation 1964, exx. S.A. Agnew Lumber Company 3, nee Estern Railway & Lumber Company 3 at Centralia, Washington, built by Lima in 1920

W.M. Carney Mill Company 3 truck Shay 36 (Cass Scenic 10), ex. State of West Virginia 1994, exx. lease to Cass Scenic Railroad 36 1987, exxx. George Kadelak (private owner), exxxx. loan to Bear Creek Scenic Railroad at Robbinsville, North Carolina for display in 1973, exxxxx. loan to Tennessee Valley Railroadd Museum in Chattanooga 1967, exxxxxx. Southern Railway Company 1966, exxxxxxx. corporate sale to New River Railway Company 36 1966, exxxxxxxxx. leased to Brimestone & New River Railway 36 1965, exxxxxxxxx. Brimestone Railroad Compamy 36 New River Tennessee 1942, exxxxxxxxxx. W.M. Ritter Lumber Company 36, exxxxxxxxxxx. moved to Maben, West Virginia, exxxxxxxxxxxxx. W.M. Ritter Lumber Company 36 at Oxley, West Virginia, nee W.M. Carney Mill Company 5 at Atmore, Alabama built by Lima Locomotive Works in 1916.

Cass Scenic Railroad 45 ton switcher 20 "Little Henry" built by American Locomotive Company for General Electric in 1943. It was delivered new to the United States Navy. Its service history is unknown except for last assignment – the Philadelphia Navy Yard. It was acquired as surplus by Relationship Management Application and shipped directly to Cass.

Cass Scenic Railroad 65 ton switcher 21 built by General Electric in 1943.

The tender from Buffalo Creek and Gauley 2-8-0 4, ex. North Carolina Transporation Museum 1978, exx. Southwest Virginia Scenic Railroad 4 at Hiltons, Virginia in 1975, exxx. Carter-Cash Enterprises at Appalachia, Virginia in 1972, exxxx. Francis Ede (Quakerstown & Eastern 4) at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1967, exxxxx. Buffalo Creek and Gauley Company 4 at Dundon, West Virginia, nee Ferrocarril Mexicano 200, built by Baldwin in 1926.

It was acquired by Cass Scenic in 2015 from the North Carolina Transportation Museum who had restored it in 1986 and numbered it as a replica of Southern Railway 2-8-0 604.

We returned to Cass and Elizabeth drove us the Mullin Hotel in Moorefield where we had dinner in the Mullin1847 restaurant. Much later we called it a night.