Town tours augment train trips at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
Visitors of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in Pocahontas County are invited to take a tour showcasing the park’s past when it was a thriving company town of 2,000 residents during the peak logging years of the early 20th century.
Naturalist/historian Monica Fleming leads the tour, in which visitors see the Cass Company Store, which is now a massive gift shop and retail store that also houses the Last Run Restaurant and railroad museum.
“The Company Store exterior and interior designs remain true to the 1900s,” Fleming said. “The store’s front porch overlooks the original rails and Shay locomotives that now work as a tourist train.”
The tour also includes company houses that now are rented as vacation cottages, as well as private residences within the town of Cass. The picket fences and reintroduced maple trees on Front Street reflect the homes’ logging era. Other landmarks include the Cass Hotel (circa 1902), the Masonic Lodge (circa 1904), the Presbyterian Church (circa 1905) and one of the most popular attractions: the Cass jail.
“Folks like to take photos and selfies in the jail. The mayor’s office is the upstairs of the jail. Before the jail’s construction in 1902, the town’s first constable would lock up lawbreakers in a boxcar,” Fleming said.
The boardwalks throughout town are reconstructions of actual sidewalks that once existed. The tour highlights the home and office of Dr. Uriah Hannah, the first company doctor who cared for the community of Cass for nearly 30 years. The Cass Showcase, a metal structure where horse teams once were fed, invites visitors to enter and watch a film about Cass history and observe a HOscale model of the town as reference. The Showcase is open Tuesday through Sunday at scheduled times.
The Cass town tours are free to take. Tours leave from the state park’s visitors’ center and last approximately 45 minutes. Tours are conducted through Labor Day twice every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and on Labor Day Monday, three tours are scheduled at 1:30, 3:30 and 5 p.m. Tour days and times change during fall foliage season. A self-guided town tour narrative is available at www.cassrailroad.com, as well.
For more information about Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and its activities, accommodations and events, visit www.cassrailroad.com or call 304-456-4300.
(Source: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources)