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Riding The Rails

Four Vintage Train Rides Thru Brilliant Fall Colors.

October 1 - 6, 2006

This outstanding Elderhostel program was sponsored by West Virginia State

Community and Technical College.  The base site for the weeks activities

was at Snowshoe Mountain Resort near Cass, West Virginia.  The program

began with a dinner and orientation meeting on Sunday, October 1, 2006. 

Snowshoe resort is a very large ski and vacation facility with many different

types of lodges and shops available.  Our Elderhostel group was housed in

Mountain Lodge, a very comfortable building that offered restaurant and meeting facilities. 

Near Mountain Lodge was the Ballhooter's Ski Lift.  On the Sunday, when I arrived

it was open and I took a ride down and back to Shavers Lake. 

The day was beautiful and the trees were just beginning to turn to their fall colors.

On Monday morning the 2nd, we had lectures about the vintage trains

were would be riding.  In the afternoon, we had our first field trip of the program. 

We were bussed to Green Bank, West Virginia where we toured the

National Radio Astronomy Observatory.  This facility is design to

help scientists learn more our the universe and the science of radio astronomy. 

The observatory has a great science center along with many radio telescopes.

On the observatory grounds is the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. 

This is the world's largest fully steerable radio telescope. 

It is 100 meters in diameter.  The white area of the telescope is over 2 acres in size.

Each evening we had a program related to the theme of the

Elderhostel program.  On Monday evening it was a musical performance 

entitled "All Aboard the Iron Horse" song and stories.

Tuesday morning arrived with brilliant sunshine and the expectation

of our first train excursion.   We were bussed several miles to Cass, WV. 

This is the home of the Cass Scenic Railroad.

We were to be pushed up the nearby mountain by Shay Locomotive number 2. 

This vintage locomotive would be hooked to the rear of out train along

with another Shay Locomotive #11 for our morning train ride.

All Aboard!

Sunshine, open passenger cars, locomotive smoke and steam,

what more could one ask for?

Our first stop on the ride up the mountain, Whittaker Station. 

Time for an Elderhostel box lunch.

Standing in front of Shay Locomotive #11, part of our two

locomotive setup for the ride up to Bald Knob.

These Shay Locomotives were thirsty.  The use many gallons

of water climbing up the mountain.  Time to fill the water tanks.

We have arrived at Bald Knob and everyone is leaving the train

to check out the scenery from this high point of the train ride.

~

Wednesday morning found our rail enthusiast group going to

Durbin, WV to ride the "Rocket". 

This is a picture of the Climax

Locomotive that serviced the rocket train.

The train traveled along side of the Greenbrier River

where the fall colors were in full bloom.

Here comes the "Rocket" on a photo opportunity pass. 

Full smoke and steam for the photographers.

Checking out the locomotive.  After our train ride, we had a

delicious lunch in the station and then off for our next train ride of the day.

After lunch it was a short bus ride to our next stop. 

We were going to ride the Cheat Mountain Salamander. 

The Cheat Mountain Salamander was a rebuilt wooden coach

mounted on a diesel chassis which would power us along the banks of the Cheat River. 

The trip was 22 miles long and we moved at a pace that was

slightly slower than twenty miles per hour. 

The scenery along the river was a palette of fall colors.

Each bend in the river brought forth more fall colors.

Our stopping point in the trip was at Cheat River Falls. 

While the falls were not high, but they were very pleasant to visit and photograph.

A beautiful West Virginia sunset ended our day of train travel. 

It does not seem possible that our week is almost over.

 

Our last train ride of the week was on Thursday, October 5th. 

We rode on the New Tygart Flyer.  This was to be our only ride

behind a diesel locomotive.  Like yesterday,

we will follow the Cheat River up to the falls. 

The New Tygart Flyer!

Standing at the lower view point of the Cheat River Falls. 

The scenery along the river was beautiful and West Virginia did not

disappoint our group when it came to vibrant fall colors. 

Friday opened with rain and heavy clouds.  It was time to head for home. 

This Elderhostel program was outstanding in every way!