Trains have played a large part in West Virginia’s heritage. The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) is the oldest railroad in the United States and 210 of its 379 miles lie within West Virginia. We will not be able to explore them all, but this trip will give you a taste for more.
Travel to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia, the Mountain State. After checking in at Canaan Valley Resort enjoy a relaxing outdoor barbecue with entertainment provided by the Shaver Mountain Ramblers. End the day, by a bonfire roasting smores over the fire. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, this 6000 acre resort is surrounded by not only the Monongahela National Forest but also borders Canaan Valley National Refuge. This is the perfect place to escape the hectic pace of everyday life.
After a hearty breakfast it’s on to Elkins. The Elkins Depot is a two-story brick and sandstone structure built in 1908. Fully renovated, it now serves as a visitor’s center. You will be in walking distance of many unique downtown merchants.
At 11:20 am, the New Tygart Flyer will depart from the depot for its 4-hour, 46-mile round trip. This smooth climate-controlled passenger train has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting mountain wilderness excursion rides in the United States. This ride features two separate mountain grades, an “S” curve tunnel, passage into a 1,500’ deep canyon with steep densely forested slopes, and crossing a high bridge over the rushing Shavers Fork of the Cheat River. Also included is a stop at the inspirational “High Falls of Cheat,” an 18’ high, 150’ wide waterfall in one of the most remote and pristine settings in the Eastern United States. Lunch is included on the ride.
After returning to Elkins, dinner will be at the Graceland Inn. Graceland sets on the campus of Davis and Elkins College and overlooks the town of Elkins. Graceland was completed in 1893 and was the summer home for family and friends of Henry Gassaway Davis. The house is named for Davis’ youngest and many thought favorite daughter, Grace. Following dinner, enjoy a live performance at the American Mountain Theater. The theater’s main performance is a live, two-hour family music, comedy and variety show. The music styles presented include country, gospel, bluegrass, R&B and patriotic. This high-energy show will keep toes tapping and hands clapping all the way back to Canaan Valley.
Today we experience another kind of train, the Durbin Rocket. The Rocket is powered by a rare steam locomotive; Old #3, one of only three operating Climax geared logging locomotives on Earth. Today you will ride in an authentic 1920-era coach and vintage wooden cabooses. The trip covers 10.5 miles in 2 hours and offers some beautiful photography opportunities. The Durbin Depot is a completely restored 1902 depot and serves as a local information center. Across from the depot, visit the Rail and Trail Store for all your souvenir needs. Don’t forget to try the “Big Scoop” hand dipped ice cream cones.
The afternoon will be spent “Catching the Wave” at the Green Bank Science Center. Part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Science Center is located on the location that astronomers from around the world use. The gigantic Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope is used to uncover new knowledge about the universe. After lunch at the Starlight Café, a guided tour of the telescopes will be available. Keep your eyes peeled, you might catch sight of a telescope moving to “Catch the Wave;” radio wave.
A quick stop in Cass will enable you to visit this once thriving lumber town and explore the history of the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Mill. At its peak, West Virginia Pulp and Paper employed between 2,500 and 3,000 men. After a walking tour, it’s on to Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Following check-in and freshening up, it’s back to Cass for the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park Dinner Train. The Murder Mystery Dinner Train provides an uproarious train ride into your imagination. Enjoy a great buffet dinner at Whitaker Station, but watch your back, someone might not be making the return trip. A special prize is awarded to one lucky detective on each Murder Mystery Special.
After breakfast depart for home and begin making plans for your next trip to West Virginia to ride the Potomac Eagle, the New River Fall Foliage Train, the Cheat Mountain Salamander, the Cowen Historic Railroad Festival, Durbin Days, Hinton Railroad Festival, the Elkins Christmas Train, the list goes on and on.