CASS, W.Va. – In an era of dusk-to-dawn lighting, lunar excursions at Cass Scenic Railroad offer dark skies on New Moon Runs and moonlight shadows on Full Moon Runs. The state park in Pocahontas County in West Virginia has four night runs planned in 2013.
“On clear dark nights up on the mountain, the moon and stars seem so close you can touch the sky. Dark skies with very limited to no artificial light is amazing,” said event coordinator Monica Fleming. “Getting to the destination by the power of a Shay locomotive makes the experience even more memorable.”
Photography of the night sky is encouraged. Fleming invites anyone to take a train ride at Cass Scenic Railroad on the standard daily trips, for dinner trains, at Halloween and especially the Lunar Express series: New and Full Moon runs. The 2013 all trips calendar is available at www.cassrailroad.com/CASS_schedule.pdf
New Moon Run
July 9 and Aug. 6, 2013
A new moon is a promise of dark skies from the Cass depot to the Whittaker Station destination. The New Moon run is at 8 p.m. National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) astronomers will be helping with this event, Fleming said. “New Moon excursions will have telescopes positioned at Whittaker Station to view stars. NRAO astronomers will help sight in stars and planets that are present in the night sky.”
In case of cloudy skies, upon return from the trip, activities at the Community Center will include “Story in the Stars” talk, star lab and some hands on activities. Milky Way candy bars are part of the evening snacks. There is a 100 passenger limit for the New Moon excursions. The cost is $36 for adults, $26 for children ages 5-12 and $16 for children under 5.
NRAO, located in Green Bank, W.Va., provides state-of-the-art radio telescope facilities for use by the international scientific community. Learn more about Nation Radio Astronomy Observatory at www.nrao.edu
Full Moon Run
Aug. 20, Sept. 19, 2013
Two Full Moon Runs at Cass Scenic Railroad both travel to Bald Knob, the second-highest natural occurring elevation in West Virginia. The train departs the Cass depot at 8 p.m. for a short stop at Whittaker Station and then proceeds to Bald Knob. There is a stop at Oats Run to take on water. The full moon excursion returns to the depot by 12:30 a.m. Full Moon excursions include Moon Pies and RC Cola as part of the Lunar Express series refreshments, according to Fleming. Reservations are required and the ride is $36 for adults; $26 for children ages 5-12 and $16 for children under 5.
Cass Scenic Railroad celebrates 50 years as a tourist train destination. Cass was a booming logging community and industry in the early 1900s through the 1960s. Twenty two-story company house are rented for vacation accommodation, the Last Run Restaurant, Company Store, town tours, locomotive shop tours, museum and showcase are part of visitor experience at the state park. The Cass Scenic Railroad State Park website is www.cassrailroad.com
For New Moon or Full Moon excursion information or reservations, call Cass Scenic Railroad at 304-456-4300, ext. 104 or 101.
Cass Scenic Railroad, Monica Fleming, event coordinator, or Scott Fortney, superintendent