Durbin to Cass by rail. Cass Shay #5 runs southbound toward Cass on the old C&O Durbin Branch, with a set of empty log flats. Can you really go from Durbin to Cass by rail? Well, not just yet, but the wheels are in motion to restore this connection, after nearly 30 years of dormancy.
Since the very beginning of the 20th Century, a C&O rail line has existed between the West Virginia towns of Cass and Durbin. Separated by roughly 15 miles, the two towns lie along the normally lazy Greenbrier River in Pocahontas County. In 1985 however, heavy tropical rains associated with Hurricane Juan turned the Greenbrier into a raging torrent that wiped out large sections of the old trackage. For the last 30 years, the line has been essentially dormant, except for a 5 mile stretch at the Durbin end, which has been the insular home of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad's Durbin Rocket operation. It looked as if the link between Durbin and Cass would never be rebuilt. Then, in 2015, the State of West Virginia contracted with the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley to operate the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. With this development, there was a motive and a means to reconnect the operations at Durbin and Cass. Slowly but surely, over the past two years, the Durbin & Greenbrier folks have been repairing washouts and rebuilding track. They now have nearly three miles open north of Cass, but they still have roughly 7 miles to go before a connection can be made with the existing Durbin Rocket Operation. When that happens, the railroad plans to offer excursions between the two towns, using a former Buffalo Creek & Gauley Consolidation that was purchased from the North Carolina Museum of Transportation back in 2015.