Today, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad (DGVR) operates all trains in Pocahontas County, each with their own unique history and vintage locomotives. DGVR’s Mountain Rail Adventures showcases West Virginia’s high mountain country while tracing remnants of old timber communities on its preserved railroad tracks.
In century-old Durbin, the DURBIN ROCKET Excursion Train is powered by the unique Heisler No. 6 locomotive – a coal-fired steam engine with ties to West Virginia’s historic rail and logging industry. Departing the Durbin Depot April through December, you can ride in authentic 1920-era coaches and vintage wooden cabooses behind Heisler No. 6 as she steams along the free-flowing Greenbrier River in northern Pocahontas County. The ride covers 10.5 miles in 2 hours and offers many beautiful river and mountain views in the Monongahela National Forest. This adventure is popular for kids and anyone who has an interest in railroads and history!
Cass Scenic Railroad
Cass Scenic Railroad is home to the world’s largest collection of geared Shay steam locomotives. These titans of the timber sliced into the mountains in the early 20th century transporting newly cut timber back to the sawmill in downtown Cass. Today, these impressive steam locomotives pull restored cars to several destinations along the same track used over one hundred years ago! Mountain Rail Adventures operates trains on a two-hour round trip Whittaker, the location of a former logging camp, and a four-hour round trip to Bald Knob, the third highest mountain peak in the Mountain State.
From April to December, Mountain Rail Adventures offers an assortment of special events and excursions. At the Cass Scenic Railroad, special events include train rides to Whittaker, trackside campfires, traditional bluegrass music, Appalachia-themed on-train meals, and even trips that attract photographers and historians! In Durbin, enjoy specialty-themed weekends that focus on culture, history, entertainment and more.
Wild Heart Adventure Package
Beginning with the 2015 season, Mountain Rail Adventures launched the beginning of a historic transportation system for outdoor recreation that will only expand what Pocahontas County – Nature’s Playground of West Virginia has to offer. The Wild Heart of West Virginia adventure package allows riders to connect between the Cass Scenic Railroad and the Cheat Mountain Salamander, a diesel-powered passenger train originating in Elkins. This new multi-day adventure brings passengers from Elkins to Cass and Cass to Elkins, combining lodging and attractions into customized packaging.
A Bit of History:
The rugged mountain country of Pocahontas County was a latecomer in the railroad boom that swept America during the second half of the 19th century.
The use of trains to haul lumber off the mountains was impractical until 1880, when Ephriam Shay invented a geared steam locomotive capable of managing the steep mountain grades and sharp curves.
By 1899, track was being laid at a rate of a mile a day and on October 26, 1900, the first train pulled into Marlinton and by the end of the year, the railroad’s primary objective, Cass, had been reached. The traditions and the heritage of railroading and timber come alive for visitors to Pocahontas County. The loggers may be gone, but our trains are still going full steam ahead.