Cheat River Salamander
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The Cheat River Salamander and Durbin Rocket are tourist trains operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad out of Durbin WV. I left Charlottesville about 7:30 AM Sunday to make it to Cheat Bridge, a few miles west of Durbin, in time for the 11:00 departure of the north bound Salamander, and got there with an hour to spare. (The drive over was very scenic, too. See my miscellaneous pictures page for a couple of pictures I took along the way.)
The Salamander is an Edwards motor car, built new in 2000 to a 1920s design. Its first trip of the day is from Cheat Junction (where U.S. Rt. 250 crosses the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River) north (down river) to High Falls, an 18 foot high water fall in the river. After returning to Cheat Junction, the day's second trip is south (up river) to the Big Cut, at 4066 feet ASL the highest rail summit in the East, and the abandoned logging town of Spruce, W.Va. I rode both trips, giving a total mileage of 86, and a total time of about 5 1/2 hours.
On my way from Cheat Junction to Bartow, where I spent the night, I saw the crew putting the Climax locomotive for the Rocket into the engine house for the night.
The next day (Monday) I rode the Durbin Rocket. This is powered by a Climax geared steam locomotive from Durbin south about 5 miles on the old C&O line along the Greenbrier River. Again, I arrived about an hour early, just as it began to drizzle. At the recommendation of my friend Max, I introduced myself to the engineer, George Dicke, and he was very friendly, talking with me about the engine, the train and its history, and a variety of other things. The train itself consists of an open gondola car and two cabooses. Given that it was raining, I chose to ride most of the way in the cupola of the caboose closes to the locomotive. Despite the weather, it was a great trip, about 2 1/2 hours total.