Yesterday, Mom and I bundled up in our best cold Florida wear and headed out early on a 2 hour drive from Union to Cass, WV, a town that is now a state park and offers train rides up to Bald Knob.
The engines are real and are coal powered steam engines. The cars are open to the elements with a strip of seating down the middle of the car.
I mention the open cars because, as I mentioned, we were dressed for Florida cold. Not top-of-a-mountain-in-West-Virginia cold. If you book the Bald Knob excursion, lunch is included.
The train starts out being pushed by the engine up for the first of 3 switchbacks, then pulls, then pushes, etc. You get the picture.
It was a chilly day to start with. It got colder the farther up the mountain we went, but we lucked out and didn’t have any rain. The scenery was impressive.
There were modern signs of man as well.
But the most impressive scene as we traveled was the sight of the engine pushing then pulling us up the mountain. The breakman on the back car had to jump off every time we came to a switchback and then jump back on a moving train. There were several water depots, where they could stop and top off the tank along the way.
We also saw a hint of the wildlife in these mountains.
Finally, we reached the top. Mom and I were little icicles, as the wind coming in along with the low temperatures didn’t work well with our thin Florida blood. We shivered as we put together our sandwiches.
We, luckily, weren’t the only ones freezing, but there were also people in shorts and sandals that seemed unbothered by the temperature. As we got back on the train to head back down the mountain (and to the heater in our little red car), one of the locals stopped by to say goodbye.
All in all, it was a fun trip, though we wish we had dressed warmer (like in ski suits or something thermal). I would definitely recommend this to the train lover in your family.