Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cass Scenic Railroad

Another family activity this week included our trip up to Cass, WV to ride the old steam engine train they have there. We rode it halfway up the mountain and back. (I can't remember the name of the mountain. There are so many around here.) After about a 45 min. ride up, changing directions by switchbacks, which is how they built tracks up the mountain back in 1900, we stopped at Whittaker. Whittaker is now a picnic area and outdoor museum, of sorts, where they show some old train cars and timber machines, including an old meal car complete with the original kitchen equipment. There used to be a busy sawmill in Cass, but it's been closed for many years. The tour guide told us that the entire mountain had been cleared out by timber companies by 1950, and all that we saw had grown up since then. It was really amazing that an entire mountain could be covered by forest in around fifty years time. Also, this railroad was built mostly by immigrants from Italy who used picks, tools, and some black powder. They would then walk all the way to the top of the mountain at night to sleep at a little camp-like town up there, and back down again in the early morning to start work again. It's incredible to me that so many worked so hard to build railroads, and then to keep them in working and safe condition. My dad and grandpa worked for the railroad, so it was especially interesting to me to learn about all of this stuff.

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