The West Virginia Department of Transportation recently completed a nearly four-year effort to reopen the long-shuttered scenic rail line between Cass and Durbin in Pocahontas County.
[Above photo by WVDOT]
A flood washed out a 15-mile segment of the Cass-Durbin scenic railroad line in 1985, including a key bridge. The West Virginia Division of Highways (WDOH), Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad, and the State Rail Authority – now part of the WVDOT’s Division of Multimodal Transportation Facilities – played key roles in completing the project, said Multimodal Transportation Facilities Commissioner Cindy Butler, appointed to this new position in July 2022.
“[This] multi-year labor of love to restore the track from Durbin to Cass is finally complete,” she noted in a statement.
“The final piece of the puzzle was installing a bridge over Trout Run,” Butler added. “The saying ‘It takes a Village’ was never more true than the completion of this bridge project. The crews got together, worked out the logistics, the state purchased the materials and the bridge was constructed. To say I am proud of everyone that played a part in the completion of this line, is an understatement. It is a true testament of the talent we have within our state.”
Work crews from WVDOH Central Forces took the lead in building a new bridge over Trout Run, allowing the rail line between Cass and Durbin to reopen, WVDOT said.
Originally intending to build only the bridge abutments in 2019 and 2020, Central Forces came back in 2022 to build the bridge itself.
Conditions at the work site were harsh, with crews hauling all the needed materials by rail five miles up the rail line.
Twelve to 14-hour work days were common as dedicated Central Forces work crews toiled in rain and snow, WVDOT noted.
“I think we owe it to the state and to the nation to open this back up so people can see the beauty of the river and this valley,” said Greg Pennington, a supervisor on the Cass project.
“Years from now, my kids, my grandkids, their grandkids are going to have the opportunity to ride this valley,” he noted.
“And they can say my dad or my grandad or my great-grandad helped build this bridge,” Pennington added.
WVDOT noted that a locomotive made a test run over the new bridge in early February and excursion trains should begin operating over the newly reopened rail line in the spring of 2023.