CASS, W.Va. - Engines from an era when trains were steam driven and geared for power are working at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in Pocahontas County. Cass has all the bells and whistles that a person expects from a fleet of iron horses that date back to the early 1900s, according to Scott Fortney, park superintendent.
“The locomotives alone are awesome feats of engineering,” Fortney said. “Good food and good music are combined on the Cass Dinner Trains this summer. The dinner setting rivals any overlook view in West Virginia and a band performing for entertainment caps a summer evening.”
Fortney encourages anyone who has never visited Cass Scenic Railroad to do so in 2013, the state park’s 50th year of operation. “It’s a special place preserving some of West Virginia’s history.”
Cass Scenic Railroad makes daily trips up Cheat Mountain with trips to Whittaker Station and a noon run to Bald Knob with the exception of Mondays. Monday is a day to work on operations and get ready for the week ahead. The town and company house are open, but on Monday the locomotives do not operate.
A schedule is posted online along with descriptions of other special runs and events in addition to locomotive information, “town tour” information, and online reservations to rent one of the 20 company houses in the Town of Cass. To learn more about Cass Scenic Railroad, visit www.cassrailroad.com
Dinner train schedules and menus
Six dinner trains were planned at Cass Scenic Railroad in addition to the 360 train trips scheduled for the 2013 season. Four dining events remain. Fortney says this year is not a typical year, as shown by the diversity in entertainment. Bands playing are: Once Blue (July 13)
, Wolf Creek (July 27 and August 10)
, and Juanita Fireball (August 24.)
Bands perform for almost an hour upon arrival at the Whittaker Station pavilion.
The dinner menu on July 13 and August 10 includes: barbeque chicken, baked beans, corn on the cob, potato salad, garden salad, rolls, watermelon and beverages. July 27 and August 24 buffet includes pull pork barbeque and veggie burgers, red bliss potatoes, green beans, black beans and corn salad, desserts, and beverages.
“The ladies who operate the Last Run Restaurant won’t allow anyone to leave hungry. The buffet is great,” Fortney said. The buffet-style dinner is at Whittaker Station. “Folks can take advantage of the open area, picnic tables and enjoy the time outdoors with family and friends,” Fortney said. Whittaker #1 Logging Camp is also at this area to visit and explore.
Dinner trains depart from the Cass Depot at 5:15 p.m. for Whittaker Station. The evening includes a round trip from Cass to Whittaker Station and back, buffet dinner prepared by the Last Run Restaurant, and entertainment at Whittaker Station. The train generally returns by 8 p.m. The cost is $36 for adults, $26 for youth (12-5) and children under five years of age is $16. Reservations are necessary by least a two days or more in advance in order to make food preparations. Make reservations by calling 304-456-4300.
About the Cass Dinner Train entertainment
Once Blue – July 13
Bluegrass bands find members and become a group, and bands blend and regroup from time to time. Once Blue is a traditional bluegrass band with Bill Lemon, guitar from Cross Lanes, W.Va.; Mark Sowards, banjo; and Larry Melton, mandolin; both of Sissonville, W.Va., and Keith Sargent, Bass from Point Pleasant, W.Va. These four men have played in other groups. Songs written by Don Sowards (and the Laurel Mountain Boys) are performed in addition to others favorites that are on their CD, “Out Behind the Barn.” Once Blue has been performing since 2000.
Wolf Creek Band – July 27 and August 10
Wolf Creek Band© is made up of four musicians from Nicholas and Webster counties in West Virginia. Randy Schartiger (Guitar/resophonic guitar/vocals) and his son Ronnie Schartiger (mandolin/guitar/vocals) along with Jubal Taylor (banjo/guitar/vocals) and his father Randy Taylor (bass/vocals) make up a double duet of fathers and sons to form The Wolf Creek Band.
Wolf Creek is a bluegrass band and more. Their performances include genres from a very old style of bluegrass to jazz to southern rock and country, songs like "Hold What Ya Got" with old style family harmonies. Vocals include Lynyrd Skynyrd's "The Breeze" and songs like "Man of Constant Sorrow" and Travis Tritt's "Where Corn Don't Grow." “The Chronicles of Lucin Pretorious” is an original song and one of many numbers on the playlist. Wolf Creek plays hard driving bluegrass. The band will be releasing its new CD in July/August 2013.
Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters – August 24
A group resurrected after a 25-year hiatus, Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters is back. Members include Mary Sue Burns on the claw hammer banjo and husband Mike Burns on the fiddle. The Burns’ first started playing music in the late 1970s. The other like-minded musicians who make up Juanita Fireball are Jay “Pluto” Lockman (Lockman is a lead scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory); Wayne “Handyman” Walton on the doghouse bass; John Sparks on guitar (AKA Rev. Sleepy John); and Terry “Double Dog” Richardson on guitar. The sound is pure - a blend of Appalachian string band tunes with some gospel for good measure. When Juanita Fireball kicks into to a song, if the audience isn’t dancing, they’ll want to and are welcome to do so. Juanita Fireball was a featured band at the 2013 Vandalia Gathering in Charleston.
Scott Fortney, Superintendent