A nice stop on the way to Cass was the Denmar/ Locust Creek covered bridge. It was a little bit of a challenge at first to find but it made for some nice pictures once we did. If you are heading north on US-219 you will turn right onto Locust Creek Rd.. You will travel 3.1 miles and then the road kind of dead ends. When it does look to the right and you will see the bridge.
The Cass Scenic Railroad is a very unique Railroad, all are, but the 6 operational steam engines( and 2 down for re-builds) give the Cass Scenic the feel that our back in the golden age of steam, the maintenance crews at Cass do a superb job on the engines, rolling stock, buildings, and track, the engineers and firemen also do a great job. The Bald Knob ride is a great ride, for those who are incredibly restrained by their budget their is a shorter cheaper run up to Whitaker. There is also a run that goes to Spruce, an old logging town that is only accessible by train. The Railroad offers free mechanical shop tours, and town tours, the Cass Scenic Railroad Park has company houses you can rent as well. The Cass Scenic. also offers the ability to sleep in a real caboose. Great place for Railfans.
Great train ride for fall foliage. We rode the train to Bald Knob during the peak of fall foliage. The views from the train were fabulous and the staff were friendly and enjoyed talking about the history and ecology of the area. My only complaint is that the coal smoke can be irritating. I would recommend trying to sit in the car furthest from the engine and wear dark clothes as they will have soot after the ride.
Cass Scenic Railroad is an old logging route rising 1000' to 2500' above the surrounding valley. You can take the 2-hour trip to Whittaker or the 4-hour trip to Bald Mountain. Both trains stop at Whittaker, which is a restored logging camp. We took the 2-hour ride, which includes the 2-switchbacks.
There are about eight specialized engines used on the mountain railroads. Due to the step grades and the tight turns, the traditional driver-wheel power systems did not provide adequate power. The Shay Locomotive Company designed a gear driven steam power drive that used 'trucks' instead of main drive wheels. Today, trucks are the standard power system used by diesal and electric engines.
You used to be able to tell how long a brakeman had been on the job by how many fingers were missing. Now we have stricter safety standards, but it is still dangerous. Visit the brakeman, and find out what that job entails, how the brakes work, and listen to stories of the area.
Steam engines are a dying breed, and they are costly to maintain. Environmentalists complain about the smoke. So this may be your only opportunity to see these marvelous machines.
The porter rides this line and know much about the area including the flora and fauna, so if you want to know about the plants you are passing, talk to her. She is a very interesting person.
When yo reach Bald Knob there is plenty of time to enjoy the view of Pocahontas County, and to eat your box lunch. We even saw some deer on the knob!