The rail line between Cass and Durbin in Pocahontas County is finally open following almost four years of cooperative work between the West Virginia Division of Highways, Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad and the State Rail Authority, which is now part of the West Virginia Division of Transportation’s Division of Multimodal Transportation Facilities.
“Finally! The multi-year labor of love to restore the track from Durbin to Cass is finally complete,” said Cindy Butler, multimodal transportation facilities commissioner. “This 15-mile section of track was washed out during the 1985 flood and laid dormant ever since.”
Work crews from WVDOH Central Forces took the lead in building a new bridge over Trout Run, allowing the rail line between Cass and Durbin to reopen. Central Forces worked closely with the railroad on the project. Originally intending to build only the bridge abutments in 2019 and 2020, Central Forces came back in 2022 to build the bridge itself. Conditions at the work site were harsh, with crews having to bring all materials by rail five miles up the rail line. Twelve or 14-hour work days were common as dedicated Central Forces work crews toiled in rain and snow.
“Years from now, my kids, my grandkids, their grandkids are going to have the opportunity to ride this valley,” said Greg Pennington, a supervisor on the Cass project. “And they can say my dad or my grandad or my great-grandad helped build this bridge.
“I think we owe it to the state and to the nation to open this back up so people can see the beauty of the river and this valley,” Pennington said.
A Shay locomotive from Cass made a test run over the new bridge in early February 2023.
“A truer example of a Public Private Partnership won’t be seen in a long time,” Butler said. “This 15-mile section of track with this beautiful ballast deck bridge, is a star for West Virginia and should be a showpiece for our WVDOT employees and the DGVR employees for many years to come. To say I am proud of everyone that played a part in the completion of this line, is an understatement. It is a true testament of the talent we have within our state.”
Cass intends to start running excursion trains over the newly reopened rail line in the spring.