Celebrating 20 Years of Tourist Trains

04/18/2017   
 

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad in West Virginia is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017. For two decades, tourist trains have hauled passengers through some of West Virginia’s most remote terrain with on-board hospitality, good food, and mountain camaraderie.

Located within a day’s drive of some of the country’s biggest cities, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is a perfect summertime destination for you and your family.

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Our historic train rides take passengers on fun-filled train rides from the towns of Elkins, Cass, Durbin, or Cheat Bridge. The company’s philosophy of “leave the city behind and relax in the mountains” is something that has driven out-of-state tourists to West Virginia for the last several years.

In drifting out of the hustle and bustle of urban life, visiting the railroad and the surrounding high mountain beauty of West Virginia gives families the opportunity to relax with one another and create a memorable vacation in a setting that people don’t often get to experience. Internet and cell phone service may be limited at times, but limiting these types of amenities gives families the chance to be entertained and educated differently. The railroad and its historic towns along the route tell the story of American architecture and the importance of coal mining and timber.

In 2015, the railroad expanded its operations to include the Cass Scenic Railroad, a former logging railroad that contains the largest collection of geared ‘Shay’ steam locomotives in the country. Each year, thousands of children and families visit Cass to enjoy the sights and sounds of these historic pieces of machinery. In handing operations for the Cass Scenic Railroad, it has opened up additional opportunities that transition the railroad and its train rides from a day trip to a weekend destination.

“When families visit one of our Mountain Rail Adventure destinations for the first time, they fall in love with the surrounding area – the scenery, the people, and it becomes a memorable experience,” said Chase Gunnoe, external affairs manager at the railroad. “It’s not about taking a day trip to ride a train – it’s about leaving the chaos of urban culture behind and drifting into the wilderness to experience history, beautiful mountains, and great people,” he added.

“This place is like no other and that’s why more than 70 percent of our customers are returning guests. They get to know the workers and the employees and they form relationships with those people. The people of West Virginia are respectful, family-oriented people and when you visit our railroad – you become a part of the family and that experience,” Gunnoe added. 

And the railroad strives to do just that. Each April through December, the railroad operates a wide assortment of different tourist trains from its four depots. The Cass Scenic Railroad featured steam trains and is a great way to see parts of West Virginia that are only accessible by rail, while in nearby Durbin, kids can ride along the Greenbrier River and feel as if they are part of the train crew.

In Elkins, the New Tygart Flyer takes families to a beautiful waterfall where they can de-train, take family pictures, and return to Elkins. Visitors can also tour the entire rail line on board the Cheat Mountain Salamander. Both the New Tygart Flyer and Cheat Mountain Salamander include lunch and on-train entertainment.

At Cass, guests can pick from two excursion options. A 1.5-hour steam ride takes you to Whittaker camp where families get to learn about what it was like to bring timber off the Appalachian Mountains using nothing but steam trains and laborers. Or, families have the opportunity to travel all the way to the top of the mountain at Bald Knob where a scenic overlook at more than 4,800 feet in elevation gives guests a view into the state of Virginia from West Virginia. This overlook is also commonly used as a training exercise for U.S. fighter jets. The mountains are used for training in fighter combat scenarios. It is very common for passengers to be standing at the overlook while staring down at two passing F16s in the valley below them.

“Bald Knob is one of the quietest places in the country – that is, until a fighter jet passes by you at speeds in excess of 500 mph,” said Gunnoe. “The first time I saw a pair of F16s slice through the valley below Bald Knob overlook, I was genuinely speechless.”

Whether you are looking to get away from the city for a few days, or looking to create lifelong memories with your family, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad invites everyone to come to West Virginia and be a part of its Mountain Rail Adventure Family in 2017.

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad and its team members thank the men and women of the United States Armed Forces for their service to our beautiful country.

For more information, visit www.mountainrail.com or call 800-686-7245.
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The Griffon Spring 2017

Vol. 41.1 | Spring 2017

The Griffon
The Griffon is written and published quarterly in the interest of the 108th National Training Command.
 






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