Passenger tourist services on the state owned lines in the area commenced in the late 1990s and together with operations on the Cass Scenic Railway continued in a fairly well established pattern until late 2010. In 2011, work commenced on an environmental improvement scheme known as the Shavers Fork Mitigation Scheme. As there is no road access to the site on the Upper Shavers Fork River has no road access, material was brought in by rail from a loadout point at Cheat Bridge, utilizing about 12 miles of the West Virginia Central from Cheat Bridge to Spruce, and about 1 mile of the Cass Scenic Railroad from Spruce to Shavers Fork. Whilst work is in progress, all other traffic was excluded from these sections of railway.
In 2013, it became possible to resume normal operations. However, one useful byproduct of the closure was that rehabilitation of the track between Cheat Bridge and Spruce to permit heavy freight traffic meant that it was now possible to use locomotive hauled passenger trains instead of lightweight railcars on that portion of the route.
Traffic on the West Viginia Central Railroad is operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. This includes the freight operation from Tygart Junction to Elkins and Dailey (freight movements south of Elkins to Spruce and beyond are rare) and tourist passenger services on the line to Spruce, including the Tygart Flyer and the Cheat Valley Salamander.
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad also operates the Durbin Rocket steam hauled passenger excursion train from Durbin to Piney Island. Like the West Virginia Central, the track is owned by the State Rail Authority, as is the old trackbed of the Greenbrier Railway from Piney Island to Cass and beyond. Future extension is therefore a possibility.
The Cass Scenic Railroad operates from Cass to Bald Knob, and on certain days to Spruce.
The possibility of linking these various railways into a circuit making possible a 90 mile (145 km) round trip from Elkins via Durbin, Cass and Spruce remains an aspiration.
|Railways of the World|
|Railways of the USA|
|Tourist & Museum Railways in the USA|
|Tourist & Museum Railways in WV|
|Railways around Spruce WV|
|Glyn Williams’ Home|
Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad map from the website of Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad
Map of Spruce area by Glyn Williams based on maps published in the
Appalachia & Piedmont volume of the SPV Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America
West Virginia flag image from Wikipedia
Pocahontas County emblem from the Pocahontas County website
Special thanks to the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association
for providing much of the information used in this article
Thanks also to SPV for their excellent Railroad Atlases