Highland Adventure of Mountain and Rails ﾖ 90 miles of mountain fun
Durbin Greenbrier Valley Railroadﾒs John Smith has a vision. Instead of working against other local railroads, connect them, along with the rail trails, to create an endless adventure that spans six counties.
The vision came to Smith while he was in the hospital being treated for colon cancer. Once he was given a clean bill of health, Smith thought, ﾓwhat am I waiting for?ﾔ The answer ﾖﾠnothing.
Smith took the idea to his business partners and developed plans for the Highland Adventure of Mountain and Rails.
The plan will connect The Tygart Flyer, in Elkins, The Durbin Rocket, the Cheat Mountain Salamander and The Cass Scenic Railroad, as well as the Greenbrier River Trail.
Smith said the point of the plan is to create an epic adventure that will connect six counties ﾖ Barbour, Tucker, Randolph, Webster, Pocahontas and Greenbrier ﾖ with 90-miles of track and trail.
ﾓWe [DGVR] operate apart from Cass, but also in cooperation,ﾔ he said. ﾓOne problem is, itﾒs not helping the area as much as it could.ﾔ
The adventures are endless, and will include trains, rail trails and kayaking.
ﾓAll the trains will be equipped with racks for bikes and kayaks,ﾔ Smith said. ﾓIf you want, you can bike the Greenbrier River Trail, then ride the Cass train to Spruce and catch the Tygart Flyer to Elkins. Then, you can spend the night in Elkins and catch a show at the American Mountain Theater and make the loop back the next day.ﾔ
Smith said the Highland Adventure of Mountain and Rails will do much more than connect rail trails and train routes.
ﾓThis will open up additional options for outfitters,ﾔ Smith said. ﾓWeﾒre combining recreation with transportation. The trail will connect to Snowshoe property, opening up possibilities for lodging.ﾔ
Smith said the longest possible train ride will be 10 hours on three separate trains, with the shortest ride being between one to one-and-a-half hours.
The project will begin with connecting the railroads. Phase I consists of upgrading the current track in Durbin and repairing flood damaged track from there down to Cass.
Phase II is the connection of Elkins to Durbin. Smith said there is unused track between Slaty Fork and Bergoo, in Webster County, that is owned by the West Virginia Rail Authority. The track will be raised and used to connect Cass and Durbin. The trail left by the tracks will become a trail similar to the Greenbrier River Trail.
ﾓWe can better utilize it by moving the track to form the loop,ﾔ Smith said. ﾓThat part of the trail will be rail banked similar to the Greenbrier River Trail. That means it could return to being a railroad track if the need arises.ﾔ
The trail from Slaty Fork to Bergoo will be a 30-mile rail trail connecting Pocahontas and Webster counties.
Phase III will connect DGVR and Cass at two locations ﾖ Cass and Old Spruce.
If everything goes according to plan, Smith said he hopes the loop will be completed in 2015. He said the plan has been met with nothing but positive reactions.
ﾓThis is an opportunity to better utilize what the West Virginia Rail Authority has already put together. Itﾒs an opportunity between entities that never had the opportunity before,ﾔ Smith said.
For more information on the Highland Adventure of Mountain and Rails, visit www.mountainrail.com/hamr