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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

This program has been canceled. Ticket holders will be notified about credit and/or refund options.

A Mountain Rail Extravaganza

The Cass Scenic Railroad and Other West Virginia Excursions

3-Day Tour

Depart: Friday, June 5, 2020 - 8:00 a.m.
Return: Sunday, June 7, 2020 - 7:30 p.m.
Code: 1NNCAS

The Durbin Rocket, built in 1910

All aboard for an exciting rail journey through West Virginia’s breathtaking mountain scenery. Led by railroad historian Joe Nevin, this multi-day tour features three rail excursions, including a climb behind the geared steam locomotive of the Cass Scenic Railroad to the top of the second-highest point in the state.

Friday’s route descends into the scenic Shenandoah Valley before turning west into the region known as “Virginia's Switzerland.” After a scenic stop for a picnic box lunch, continue west to the town of Durbin, West Virginia, and board the Durbin Rocket for a private chartered trip on the last remaining miles of the track which once connected Durbin with Cass. The leisurely 10-mile round trip along the upper Greenbrier River introduces the rugged Climax locomotive #3, as well as other early 20th-century cars. Accommodations are at the Hampton Inn in Elkins; dinner at a local restaurant and daily breakfast at the hotel are provided. 

Saturday is a full day of riding the rails. In Elkins, board the Cheat Mountain Salamander, a vintage passenger train featuring restored cars and early diesel locomotives. After twisting and climbing from the Tygart Valley, the train travels to the Cheat River side of the 4,000-foot-high mountain and descends to the valley below. Enjoy a 30-minute stop at the isolated High Falls of the Cheat. Lunch is served on board, as the train continues south through the heart of the Cheat Mountain Wilderness, with excellent opportunities to view bear, bobcats, deer, eagles, and waterfowl. Arriving at the junction at Old Spruce, transfer to the legendary Cass Railroad for a four-hour ride behind historic geared steam locomotives to the top of Bald Knob. The train traverses grades exceeding nine percent, before reaching Bald Knob overlook where a large platform offers panoramic views into two states and the Allegheny Mountains. Descending, make stops at a spring where the train takes on water, and at Whittaker Station (where passengers see an authentically recreated logging camp). Continuing into Cass, the train passes through two switchbacks and follows Leatherbark Creek, passing the Cass shops and mill, to its mouth at the Greenbrier River. Dinner is included at the 1863 Restaurant.

On Sunday, begin with a tour of the historic lumber town buildings and remnants of the great mills that once filled the valley, then view a film capturing the interrelationships of the trades comprising the Cass experience, and some of the many artifacts of timbering. The morning also includes a tour of the shop were the railroad’s collection of restored locomotives are maintained, and a chance to meet some of the people who keep them running, followed by lunch at the Cass Depot.


  • Cost includes bus transportation, lodging, all activities, and all meals.
  • Tour departs by bus from the Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., NW, with a stop at the Vienna Metro south-side Kiss and Ride at about 8:25 a.m.
  • Single-room supplement $125 (factored into the Single Room Member and Single Room Non-Member pricing).
  • Singles registering at the double-room rate are paired (on a nonsmoking basis) if possible, but must pay the single-room supplement otherwise.
  • Detailed information is mailed to registrants about four weeks prior to departure.
  • Registrants may want to consider purchasing trip insurance.

Detailed information for overnight tours
is mailed approximately FOUR WEEKS
prior to departure.