Railroad industry has had a significant impact on the West Virginia’s history and its future.
Trains were essential in the transportation of the state’s abundance of coal and lumber. A prime example is the historic town of Cass in Pocahontas County. It was originally owned and operated by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company in the early 1900s for the purpose of harvesting the plentiful timber in the Cheat Mountain area. As the logging industry continued to grow, rail lines proved essential in accessing timber. Massive Shay locomotives were brought in to haul the heavy loads through the mountainous terrain. These steam-driven locomotives were specially designed to climb extremely steep grades and navigate sharp curves on frail, temporary tracks. Once production declined and railroad operation halted, visionaries, rail enthusiasts and local businessmen saw the potential for turning the logging town into a state park and tourist attraction.
Today, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park draws thousands of visitors from all over the country to tour its historic community. It is home to the largest roster of operating geared steam locomotives in the world.
Keeping the state’s role in the railroad industry alive, CSX Transportation recently announced the establishment of a new dispatching center at its division headquarters in Huntington. CSX is investing approximately $4.5 million to create a state-of-the-art facility and it is relocating 80 train dispatchers to the city.
CSX Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the country’s leading transportation companies, with a network that spans 21,000 miles, serving 23 eastern states and connecting more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports.
“Moving our dispatching center to Huntington allows the dispatchers to be closer to the territories they control. Bringing them to Huntington was a natural fit because our division headquarters is here, and many of the dispatchers are actually moving back to West Virginia,” said CSX spokesperson Robert Sullivan. “We are pleased to increase our presence in the city, where we already have a long and proud history.”