Monday, July 21, 2014

Cass Scenic Railroad--Part II

The Views from the train as we traveled up that mountain were fantastic. The mountain in the distance is the Skyline Drive area in VIRGINIA. (Are you over there, GINNY?)
 I hope you did not miss my last post talking about us taking a train ride at Cass, West VA on June 24, 2014, while we enjoyed celebrating our anniversary in that area.  We took a ride WAY UP the mountain to Bald Knob on an open-air train, powered by an old steam locomotive.  It was fantastic.  If you DID miss that post,  be sure to read it first in order to get all of the history and information about that fabulous ride and its area...  AND--be sure and listen to the short video near the beginning of that post..  Click HERE for that post.

Today,  I'll share with you what we did and saw during that adventure... Hope you enjoy our ride.  The first several photos are of some gorgeous mountain views that we experienced from the train as we traveled up that mountain.  Be sure to click on the photos for enlargements.

This was where we stopped along the way,  the Whittaker Station.  (There is another  train one can take --if you want a shorter ride--to Whittaker and back.)  We did stop at Whittaker since they had a concession stand there, some historical items and of course,  restrooms.

It was a marvelous day to be on that train.  The views were all breath-taking.

Here's another view of the gorgeous West VA mountains--taken from the train.

I couldn't stop taking pictures of the mountains and mountain views.

The higher we got in elevation while on the train,  the more RED SPRUCE trees we saw.  The Spruce trees 'take over' in the higher elevations... The dead-looking trees beside the dark Red Spruce are/were Hemlocks.  As has happened in many areas of our country,  the hemlocks  are being destroyed by the Wooly Adelgid insects... So sad!  Hope nothing ever damages the beautiful Spruce trees here.

We saw LOTS of WILDFLOWERS along our way... So pretty!!!

The ferns and those dense mountains were just fantastic... There were so many GREEN forests all around!  I love seeing the woods knowing that in most of these areas,  they are enjoyed totally by all of the wildlife and critters--and not by humans!  That's what we love about this area of West Virginia... Tourism has not ruined it...

We made it to the TOP ---to Bald Knob,  where at over 4800 feet in elevation,  the air was much cooler!!!  We had more beautiful views from here --and this is where most of us had our lunch that day.

Here is the view from the overlook (photo of it in my last post from here) of the mountains all around us.. What fabulous views!!!

Oh My Goodness.... Click on this one for sure to see that farm located deep within these mountains.... I used my zoom lens to get this photo.  IF I were much younger,  I'd love to live somewhere deep within the mountains!!! Talk about privacy!  Wow!

Here is that farm and others within the mountains --taken with my regular lens... These last three photos were taken from the overlook at Bald Knob.

Of course,  the deer were at Bald Knob --as we started leaving the area.  He was begging and they tell the folks not to feed the deer.  BUT--many DID.... He was 'licking his chops' (See his tongue?)   --after getting some goodies from one of the train passengers. 

Heading back down the mountain,  I loved this beautiful photo of all of the layers of mountains in the distance.

Here's one more photo as we headed down that mountain of the 'views from the train'...
Hope you enjoyed seeing some of what we enjoyed while being on that train.... Although I loved the wildflowers and the critters and the deep woods,  my favorite (as you can tell by my many photos) was all of the fantastic views we had of the surrounding mountains.  On such a beautiful summer day in West VA,  what could ever be any better than this?????

Have a wonderful Monday ---and I'll be back on Thursday.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cass Scenic Railroad (Cass, West Virginia) -Part I

Betsy and George at Cass, West VA --enjoying the steam train to Bald Knob
In order to celebrate our Anniversary this year,  George and I took a trip to the glorious state of West Virginia --which we LOVE.  Even though we did ALOT of different things while we were there,  the main reason we chose that area this year was to take a ride on a train at the Cass Scenic Railroad in Cass, West Virginia.  We  took the old steam engine (Shay Locomotive)  train with open-air cars/seating WAY  UP to Bald Knob (elevation 4,842 feet).  The 11 mile trip up that mountain and back down takes a total of 4.5 hours --with 4 stops along the way.  The elevation at Cass is 2688 feet ---so if you do the math,  you'll see that we climbed a total of 2,154 feet.  One can feel the temperature getting colder the farther UP we go.  They say to bring a jacket even in SUMMER...

The Bald Knob area has a climate similar to Canada and is abundant in plants typical to the Canadian wilderness. I enjoyed seeing all of the Red Spruce trees at the higher elevations. The spectacular view from atop the overlook at Bald Knob provided a view into two states,  West Virginia and Virginia (Skyline Drive area).

George and I had been on this train once before --but the day we were there,  it was very very very cold... We about froze to death on that open-air train.  SO---we said back then that we hoped to return and take the train ride again.  This time the weather was excellent.

As many of you know,  I LOVE trains,  especially the old steam engines.   My Dad worked for the railroad for about 50 years --and when I was young,  he would take me to work with him--so that I could take a ride in one of the steam engines... SUCH great memories!!!! SO---anytime I get a chance to ride one of these old trains,  I take it --and love every second of it.

Before reading the rest of this blog post,  please take a minute and watch this short video.  The video will tell you more about the ride we took than anything I can say or show you through photos.  I promise---it won't take long but you will enjoy this little video (just to get to hear the whistle and bell if nothing else).  You can opt out of the commercial after the first few seconds.  Click HERE to see that video.  You will love it I'm sure!!

The photo above is a picture of us taken with our tripod at the Whittaker Station  (elevation about 3100 feet),  on the way up to Bald Knob.  Whittaker is one of four stops along the way.  Besides the other main stop,  Bald Knob,  the train has to stop along the way both going and coming to take on water for the engine... 

Here is another great video  (click HERE) giving much more detail about the Shay Locomotives and how they all work/operate... This video is done by a father (found the video online and do not know him) talking to his children as they go up the mountain.  He does an excellent job I think --and his children learned alot.  (He reminds me of my youngest son, who always taught his children everything as they 'explored' the world around them..)  Like most families with young children,  they opted to take the shorter ride which only goes up to the Whittaker Station,  a total ride of about 2 hours.  We personally like the longer ride to Bald Knob.

We got to Cass early so that we could watch the other train (to Whittaker Station) leave the station.

My husband had to take his turn as Engineer  (he wished).... ha

I, on the other hand,  preferred the Caboose!!!

Here comes our train into the station!!!  ALL ABOARD!!!

We love the LAST car on the train and chose it so that we could get good pictures of the engine when it goes around curves--heading up or down that mountain.  Sometimes,  the engine would PUSH us  and sometimes it would PULL us!!!  (There were some switchbacks along the way.  We even passed the Whittaker Train on our way up--as it headed back down.)

The engine is working HARD pushing us up that mountain!

This is where the train stopped to take on WATER both going up and down the mountain.

The views from the train were fantastic!!!

I loved seeing the gorgeous woods ALL around us--as we headed up the mountain.

Looking the other direction at the tracks

Our Train at Bald Knob

The overlook at Bald Knob...  At 4,842 feet in elevation --and a little chilly up there;   But--the views were GREAT.

This caboose at Bald Knob is for rent.  A person can ride the train up --and stay up there for the night and until the train comes back the next day...Then they ride back down the mountain on that train... IF you love nature,  you would be up on the mountain with no electricity nor water!!!  It will be just YOU and NATURE (and the critters)...Sound like fun?????

Headed back down the mountain;  Most of us are still standing up taking photos!!

After getting back to Cass,   we watched our No. 5 Train head out to its "home" for the night! We waved goodbye after a fantastic day!

I have another post ready to publish on Monday --telling you what we saw and did while on that special train ride... SO--you'll just have to wait!!   If you want more information about the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park,  click HERE.  If we lived closer,  we'd be taking this train ride more often.  Wouldn't it be fantastic in Autumn when the leaves change?  OR--wouldn't it be fun to take one of their Night Rides --during  a Full Moon???? WOW!!!!

Have a fantastic weekend and I'll see you Monday!