Frank likes to take part in some of Cass' murder-mystery and dinner excursions. She said the dinner train, which is offered on select Saturdays, takes people to Whittaker Station to enjoy a meal and music by a local band. The murder-mystery rides are offered near Halloween and consist of performers who act out a murder-mystery while on the train.
Baker said each trip he and his daughter takes is fascinating.
"The people here are fantastic," Baker said. "I love the sounds of the whistle that the train makes. If you listen closely, you will notice that each engineer has a different whistle. I guess you would have to ride the train often to notice that."
An important chapter
The park has welcomed more than 2.5 million visitors since 1963. During the 50th anniversary ride to Whittaker Station on Saturday, Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro and State Parks Chief Ken Caplinger spoke about the importance of the railroad.
"A lot of history surrounds what we're doing here today," Jezioro said. "It provided jobs, and a lot of wealth was taken out of West Virginia on these trains -- timber and coal."
Jezioro read a statement from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin about the tradition of the early 20th century logging-railroad and the importance it has to tourism in the region.
Caplinger said nine superintendents have served Cass since 1963 and applauded the staff for a job well done over the past 50 years. He thanked Delegate William Hartman for his involvement.
"If it weren't for Delegate Hartman and the work he has done to secure funding for the Cass Scenic Railroad, we would struggle otherwise, Caplinger said. "This train was an important chapter in our country's past and I hope there is a 100 year anniversary celebration 50 years from now."
Scott Fortney, current superintendent of Cass, said his staff wanted to redo the original run that was done 50 years ago.
"This is an unique place," Fortney said. "We are preserving history and that's a good thing."
Fortney said the locomotive engines are put into the shop every seven years for a thorough cleaning but are washed out every 30 days.
To avoid having to go all the way around a mountain to gain altitude, the Cass Scenic Railroad has switchbacks that make it easier for the train to negotiate steep inclines. For instance, the train's conductor jumps off the train at the switchback to switch the direction of the track.
At a switchback, the train's engines will reverse roles -- sometimes it pushes the train and other times it pulls.
Monica Fleming, commentator for the 50th anniversary run, has been employed at Cass for eight seasons. She said the train has four brakemen on board. Brakemen are responsible for operating the manual brakes on the way down the mountain.
"Brakemen have difficult jobs," Fleming said. "Each car of the train has its own braking system and each brakemen has the responsibility of manually stopping or slowing the train when needed."
Carolyn Grueser of Pomeroy, Ohio, was celebrating her 71st birthday the same day as the anniversary run Saturday. She and her husband have been bringing their grandson since he was 5 years old. Although he is 21 now, they still enjoy riding the train.
"The railroad industry runs deep in my family," Grueser said. "My grandson enjoys learning the history behind the Cass Scenic Railroad. We will continue to visit Cass for years to come."
Contact writer John C. Gibb at john.g...@daily.mail.com or 304-348-4872.
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