Almost Heaven, West Virginia
Railroads in the Cheat Mountain Wilderness
5 Days | May-October
Starting At $Flexible Pricing
West Virginia’s Cheat Mountain Range stretches more than 50 miles in length with four peaks above 4,800 feet. The region is spruce forest, tumbling rivers and streams, timber and coal history and three scenic railroads. Come ride the rails over, under around and through.
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breeze
Options to add:
Starr Groups Flexible Pricing:
- Customizable Comps
- Commissionable or Net Rates
- Luxury or First Class Hotels & Meals
- Starr Tours Motorcoach Transportation & Professional Tour Managers are available
Whatever you want, Starr Groups will be happy to structure tour prices to match your needs. Just let us know!
This tour needs to run Wednesday through Sunday
Day 1 – Tuesday – Lewisburg – The Greenbrier
Today, you arrive in White Sulphur Springs, WV in time for a marvelous lunch at the Greenbrier Resort’s Golf Club. Then your visit includes a most unusual history tour. You visit The Greenbrier’s Cold War Bunker, built by the Eisenhower Administration. It was a Fall Out Shelter for Congress in the event of a Nuclear Attack. This secret facility existed for 30 years, in plain sight, yet hidden from both hotel employees and guests. It’s a fascinating story and you will learn how the pantries were stocked and replenished with fresh produce and supplies. At any moment there was enough fresh water and food here to support the entire House & Senate for 60 days.
Following your visit to the Greenbrier you will check into a first class hotel in Lewisburg, WV. Once you’ve had a chance to check in to your room, enjoy a group dinner at Food & Friends followed by time to visit the shops and galleries on Main Street. (L,D)
Day 2 – Wednesday – Cass Scenic Railroad to Bald Knob – Elkins – Dinner in Timber Baron’s Mansion
Another day of great adventure begins as you motor north into the Alleghenies, your destination is the townsite of Cass. It looks much today as it did in its heyday as a company logging town. Restored company houses line the hillside. The Historical Museum and the Cass Showcase with its diorama and film provide interpretation. You’ll pick up a box lunch at the Company Store, and then it’s an exciting moment as you board a steam locomotive and pull out of the depot. This was a logging route with grades as steep as 11%, you’ll climb through deep forest with a beauty as old as the hills and then suddenly you will break out above the timber and enjoy a view of West Virginia that is beyond words. You are at Bald Knob the third highest peak in West Virginia. There was a point on the climb that if had been paying attention you would have noticed that you entered a completely different ecosystem because of the change in the trees flowers and atmosphere.
Returning to Cass, you board your motorcoach bound for Elkins, WV for a three night stay. Welcome to the Holiday Inn Express in Elkins, West Virginia near the heart of the historic downtown, nestled in the western foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, Elkins is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Appalachian Plateau. .
Dinner is at either Graceland or Halliehurst, the Mansions of the Timber Barons. Both elegant homes were built in 1890′s at the height of the timber era. (B,L,D)
Day 3 – Thursday – Greenbrier Express Train – Green Bank Radio Astronomy Observatory
This morning, you ride West Virginia’s newest train, the Greenbrier Express. This train departs from the restored, historically important town of Cass and closely follows the clear, free-flowing Greenbrier River to the small mountain village of Durbin. On arrival in Durbin, enjoy lunch served at a pre-determined location either on your train car, in the depot, or at one of the restaurants on Main Street adjacent to the depot. The ride upriver to Durbin passes through a secluded wilderness portion of the 950,000-acre Monongahela National Forest featuring beautiful scenes of forested mountains at each turn of the river. Sightings of Deer, River Otters, and Black Bear along with a wide variety of Eagles, Hawks, Ospreys, and other species of aquatic birds are common.
The original 95-mile section of this railroad was first constructed in 1902 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway with an eye toward timber resource development. It continued serving that purpose until rail traffic declined and most of the line was abandoned in 1978. Today’s trip takes you on the northernmost 15-mile portion that was purchased by the West Virginia State Rail Authority. Unfortunately, a catastrophic flood in 1985 washed out major portions of this line. Thanks to a private/public initiative between the WV State Rail Authority and Durbin & Greenbrier Valley RR, the track has been reconstructed and now offers a new and different option to visitors at the iconic Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.
Leaving Cass you cross into the next valley and find it filled with giant satellite dishes. This is the Green Bank Radio Astronomy Observatory intentionally located in one of America’s most quiet spots. Here our scientists are listening for sounds from space, and you will tour the facility. You then return to Elkins for the evening. Dinner is included this evening at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Day 4 – Friday – Elkins – New Tygart Flyer – Gandy Dancer Dinner Theatre
Today’s wilderness excursion is the New Tygart Flyer, departing from the town of Elkins. This route features an “S” curve tunnel, a high bridge and miles of unspoiled mountain views. The vintage diesel-powered locomotive climbs along the cascading Shavers Fork of the Cheat River to the High Falls which are accessible only by train. The closest road is literally five miles away. Enjoy the view relaxing aboard our comfortable climate controlled passenger coaches.
On return to Elkins you find the West Virginia Railroad Museum is located in the historic RailYard by the old railway depot. Explore the history of one of the most beloved Railways, the C & O, or Chesapeake and Ohio. This historic tale begins with President George Washington and ends with the kitten that captured America’s heart, Chessie!
Your evening entertainment begins with a meal at The Gandy Dancer Dinner Theatre. In a beautiful dining room you enjoy a very nice meal. Followed by the Mountain Memories Show Band and a musical variety show that is filled with high energy family-friendly comedy and music. It’s an unforgettable evening at West Virginia’s largest dinner theater. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Option – Saturday – Depart for home
Day 5 – Option – Saturday – Potomac Eagle – Patsy Cline
Depart Elkins this morning and travel to Romney, WV. Here you ride the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad. For three hours enjoy a narrated excursion through a tranquil and pristine mountain valley. View historic farms and lush mountain greenery. Around every curve you are rewarded with the splendor of native wildflowers, evergreens, and mixed hardwoods in an unspoiled countryside environment. Don’t be surprised to see bald eagles swooping overhead in pursuit of prey or gliding gently across the blue mountain skies as if to flaunt their supremacy of the air. (This day needs to be a Saturday)
Then you continue to Winchester, VA, Hometown of Patsy Cline, for the night. This evening you enjoy dinner in the George Washington Hotel. In its heyday this 1924 vintage Colonial Revival hotel hosted Lucille Ball and other famous Apple Blossom Festival queens. And, Betty Crocker held an apple pie baking contest in the ballroom one year.
Once dinner is over a tribute singer will join you here and perform some of Patsy’s biggest hits. (B,D)
Day 6 – Sunday – Winchester – Western Maryland Railroad Option
This morning enjoy a visit to Patsy Cline’s Historic Home. Patsy resided here from 1948-53, longer than at any other house associated with her in the Winchester and Nashville areas, and she returned to it intermittently until her singing career began in 1957. The house serves as a proud testament to Patsy’s love of family. Her devoted and influential relationship with her mother and their drive and determination launched Patsy’s career.
Groups wanting another will spend a second night in Winchester and day trip to Cumberland, MD for a ride on the Western MD scenic Railroad. We will reorganize the Patsy Cline Show and tour as necessary in order to properly stage this tour so it ends with music. (B)