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June 15, 1963: First Passengers Board Train at Cass Scenic Railroad

A passenger train from the Cass Scenic Railroad passes the water tower Friday, Sept. 14, 2007, in Cass, W.Va.
Jeff Gentner
/
AP
A passenger train from the Cass Scenic Railroad passes the water tower Friday, Sept. 14, 2007, in Cass, W.Va.

On June 15, 1963, the first passengers climbed aboard a train at Cass Scenic Railroad. The railroad was dedicated five days before West Virginia’s Centennial as a state.

This popular excursion railroad takes visitors on a trip back in time. It’s the last remnant of a once vast rail network, started in 1900, to harvest red spruce on Cheat and Back Allegheny mountains. The red spruce, which grew up to 100 feet in height, was used to supply a pulp mill in Covington, Virginia, and the lumber mill in Cass.

The steep ascent up the mountain is made possible by specially geared locomotives. At Whittaker Station, the Mountain State Railroading and Logging Historical Association has re-created a logging camp from the 1940s. And at nearly 4,900 feet, Bald Knob provides tourists with an unobstructed view across the Greenbrier Valley to Virginia. The railroad and park have been expanded to include the town of Cass, gift and craft shops, museums, and a new depot and engine shop.

The railroad is the main feature of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


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