Author Topic: WW&F Visits....  (Read 35595 times)

Ira Schreiber

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #60 on: November 15, 2015, 03:14:03 PM »
I am envious, nuff said.

James Patten

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #61 on: July 02, 2016, 11:27:20 PM »
On Tuesday June 28 I got up really early in the morning to catch a bus to Boston to catch Amtrak train 171 out of Boston to Lynchburg, Virginia.  I got off at Charlottesville, where Bill Baskerville met me and hosted me for two nights.  The next day we went to Cass Scenic Railroad in Cass, West Virginia (driving over seven ridges), where Bill and I took the train to the top of Bald Knob.  I wore my WW&F hat (and a WW&F shirt) and he wore a WW&F shirt.  A nice gentleman took our picture:



To get back we had to drive over the same seven ridges that got us there.

Thursday I intended to take Amtrak's Crescent to Baltimore, but the Crescent was over 5 hours late (from a Norfolk Southern crossing accident I later learned), so I changed to Amtrak train 176, the reverse train of 171.  I didn't need to get up nearly so early for that.  Once in Baltimore, I visited the B&O Railroad Museum.  Since I don't do selfies, I decided to do a "hatsie" instead (trust me, it is my hat):



After an overnight in Baltimore I got on Amtrak train 170 (out of DC) and went back to Boston.  The train south of New York was not very full (not surprising for so early a train), but was sold out north of New York, as everyone got a start to their holiday weekend.  Traffic was also pretty heavy from the I-95/495 merging point right into Maine.  However Wiscasset had virtually no traffic by the time I went through.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2016, 09:27:32 PM by James Patten »

John Stone

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #62 on: July 03, 2016, 01:41:22 AM »
Cass is quite an adventure! It's only 4-5 hours from Richmond so I've managed to get over there a few times. Those mountain roads are rather interesting! To hear those Shays shouting to almost-heaven while tackling grades of up to 11%(!) ain't easy on the ears, but it sounds soooo fine!

My wife and I went up there on Father's day a few years back. Richmond weather was shaping up to be a typical summer day (warm) while Bald Knob was a brisk 50-ish with spitting rain. We spent most of the brief layover huddled next to the firebox. Managed to talk our way into the cab for the ride back down. The engineer had been working there for 30+ years. It was still part of the WV park system at that time and paid decent wages, for that remote area. The ride down was interesting. The grade was anything but constant. This made for some fancy air brake work, the train crew playing the handbrakes as well. They knew what they were doing! There was a rather heated discussion between the hoghead and the young fireboy as to how high the water should be before traversing the switchbacks. I'm guessing too low would expose tubes or crown sheet, depending on the uphill end of the boiler, when they tipped over the top onto one of those ramps!

The crew had no kind words for the Heisler, though I'd love to see that run someday.

Thanks for sharing, James!


Glenn Christensen

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #63 on: July 03, 2016, 04:41:53 AM »
Hi James,

Sounds like a GREAT trip!!!

I remember the seven ridges too!!!!  You must have taken I-81 to Harrisonburg and turned right onto Rt.250.  Beautiful ride, but you're not exaggerating one bit, there ARE SEVEN ridges!  We thought we would NEVER get there.  As I recall at the top of one ridge was a historic marker mentioning some Civil War battle that was fought there - sorry I don't remember which one.  I also understand there was a railroad grade that you crossed in Monterrey.  I don't recall what gauge it was, but it ran roughly N-S up the valley while Rt. 250 runs E-W.


Best Regards,
Glenn
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 01:17:10 PM by Glenn Christensen »

Philip Marshall

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #64 on: July 03, 2016, 06:17:15 AM »
I celebrated my 40th birthday last year by visiting Cass, and had a similar reaction to the geography of the place. My previous trip to Cass was back in 1987 (I think) when I would have been 11 years old, and returning as an adult I was struck by how incredibly isolated it is. One often hears railfans complain about how Chama or Orbisonia (for example) are in the middle of nowhere, but neither of those places can compare with Cass in terms of isolation. It's truly a world apart.

Wayne Laepple

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #65 on: July 03, 2016, 11:33:45 AM »
My first visit to Cass was in May 1966, at a time when the trains only went as far as Whittaker. Most of the train crew were former Mower Lumber Co. people, and they told some pretty mazing stories of the old days. Many of them also spoke in a dialect that had hints of Olde English. In 1970, my wife and I spent our honeymoon at nearby Watoga State Park, with a couple of visits and rides. As time went on, we went there every couple or three years, often camping at the Leatherbark Campground, half a mile or so up the creek from the shops. A highlight of those visits was a walk down the track to the shops in the evening, when the hostlers were preparing the engines for the next day's work. I often helped clean the fires and load coal and sand, and one time my efforts were rewarded by the opportunity to run Shay No. 5 from the water tank up to the coal wharf -- about 300 feet -- what a thrill! We returned to Cass in 2010 to celebrate our 40th anniversary, and we're looking forward to yet another trip in 2020. Truly one of my favorite places.

Travel note -- if coming from the north, take I-81 south to Winchester, then Route 50 west to Romney and then south on 28. Only one mountain to cross, and it's a lot less up and down than Route 250. (I met a guy a couple of weeks ago who told me he got carsick on 250 and had to stop to throw up!)

John, if you go over to the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley line at Durbin, you'll get your chance to see Heisler No. 6 in operation. It's on loan there while Climax No. 3 is in the Cass shop for overhaul.

Ira Schreiber

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #66 on: July 03, 2016, 01:03:42 PM »
My first and only visit to Cass was in July 1976.
I was drivng my 1956 Flxible VL-100 and came in from the West. It was an all day trip from Charleston and lot of VERY slow driving and gear shifting. It looked like a two hour trip but took much longer.
I, then, made the statement that if you rolled West Virginia flat, it would be larger than Texas.
The trip to the top of Bald Mountain made the drive to Cass worthwhile and I got a short cab ride while there.

Keith Taylor

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #67 on: July 03, 2016, 01:17:30 PM »
A highlight of those visits was a walk down the track to the shops in the evening, when the hostlers were preparing the engines for the next day's work. I often helped clean the fires and load coal and sand, and one time my efforts were rewarded by the opportunity to run Shay No. 5 from the water tank up to the coal wharf -- about 300 feet -- what a thrill!

Wayne, your visit and mine sound eerily similar. I too got to run Shay No.5 in the evening with an old time Mower Lumber Co. hostler! This was about 38 years ago and I was a LOT thinner and with more hair back then.....

Keith

Glenn Christensen

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #68 on: July 03, 2016, 01:24:06 PM »

Travel note -- if coming from the north, take I-81 south to Winchester, then Route 50 west to Romney and then south on 28. Only one mountain to cross, and it's a lot less up and down than Route 250. (I met a guy a couple of weeks ago who told me he got carsick on 250 and had to stop to throw up!)
 

Thanks for the tip, Wayne!

BestRegards,
Glenn

James Patten

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #69 on: July 03, 2016, 07:50:35 PM »
I tend to get a bit motion sick if I'm not at the front of the vehicle, however usually train travel is OK for me.  To be safe I had my sea bands on when I detrained Tuesday evening.  Bill and his wife both noticed this and expressed concern for me for the trip the following day.  I told them as long as I am in the front seat I am fine.

The next day I did not wear my sea bands, and it wasn't until we were halfway home that Bill noticed.  However, as promised, I was fine with the harepin turns as I was in the front seat.  I did, however, make copious use of the handle over my door to brace myself.

Glenn Christensen

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #70 on: July 03, 2016, 09:28:23 PM »
Hi James,

Your choice to travel in spite of your motion sickness just speaks your "dedication to the cause."  The trip to Wales and Ireland, not to mention the ferry ride across the Irish Sea, must have been very difficult for you.  More power to you my friend!


Best Regards,
Glenn

James Patten

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #71 on: July 03, 2016, 10:07:46 PM »
Glenn, after the flight the ferry trip was relatively easy!  At least on the ferry I can go out on deck. 

John Stone

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #72 on: July 04, 2016, 07:28:42 AM »
Thanks for the Heisler-heads-up Wayne! Maybe I'll get up there this summer sometime.

As for the hairpin turns on 250, I can remember the first trip we took up there with both my sons still in car seats. I'd wheel the ol' Caravan around those curves and their seats would tip about 30 degrees. They thought it was great! My wife, not so much! We got up there the day BEFORE the start of the operating season! Three Shays were in steam on the ready track, so we posed the boys on the footboards for pictures. There was a strange sound, which I later realized was the noise a safety valve makes, just before it lifts. My sons did NOT think that was great! Future trips went better.

John

Kevin Madore

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #73 on: July 04, 2016, 08:07:16 PM »
If you're down at Cass, don't miss the "Durbin Rocket."  That's just about half an hour north of Cass in the little town of Durbin and in the past, has featured a 55-ton, 2-truck Climax.   The former Meadow River Heisler #6 is currently handling the "Rocket", while the Climax gets a 1,472 at Cass.   When the washouts are repaired and the line from Cass to Durbin is fully restored, the "Rocket" operation will come under FRA jurisdiction.   For years, the Climax operated with only the blessing of the State Boiler Inspector.    When I first rode the "Rocket" years ago, the state of the track was first-hand testament to the old saying that Climax would track two scratches in the dirt.   The track is better now. 

Someone mentioned that the crews at Cass don't fancy the Heisler.   One long-time Engineer down there once told me that he considered his duty days on #6 to be "Shay Appreciation Days."

Glad to see that James made it down there.  For those who haven't and would like to see what it looks like, here are a few photos from a couple of recent Railfan Weekends.   The only difference between what you see here and normal operations is that the locomotives normally PUSH the cars up the hill.   For the photography sessions, they put the locos on the front of the train:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/112261457@N06/albums/72157644835667471 

Neat place.....   And yeah, pretty remote.  Nearest civilized hotel rooms are either at Snowshoe Ski Resort, or in Elkins, about an hour to the north.

/Kevin

John Stone

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Re: WW&F Visits....
« Reply #74 on: July 05, 2016, 03:18:03 AM »
Very nice photos, Kevin!