MSRLHA plans restoration of Cass Mill Engine House
The Mountain State Railroad and Logging Historical Association has worked on several restorations at Cass Scenic Railroad and now has its sights set on the Engine House, also referred to as the Powerhouse, of the former Cass Mill.
The Engine House was constructed in 1922 and was originally the center of the Cass Sawmill. After two fires gutted the mill, much of the machinery in the powerhouse remained intact.
As members of the MSRLHA, including Hank Jaeger, began restoration projects at Cass, they inspected the powerhouse to take inventory of its state.
ﾓInvestigation of the interior last year revealed a Hamilton Corliss Steam engine that ran the belt machinery, as well as two electric turbines that provided electricity to the planing mill and the town of Cass,ﾔ Jaeger said. ﾓThe mill provided backup power for the town after the electric lines were brought in from the ﾑoutside worldﾒ and could be switched over for the powerhouse to light the town should the lines fail.ﾔ
With the historical significance of the powerhouse evident, the MSRLHA began campaigning for funding to restore the Engine House. Waiting for funding, MSRLHA is developing the plan to breathe life into the powerhouse.
ﾓThe mill is significant as the machinery shows the transition from steam power to turbine generated electric power that was occurring in American during the 1920s,ﾔ Jeager said. ﾓPreservation and restoration of the powerhouse and its contents will only add to the displays at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, which will provide an additional draw for visitors to this national treasure and to Pocahontas County.ﾔ
The state of the machinery found in the powerhouse has changed the plan slightly, from just a restoration, to the creation of a historical museum.
ﾓDue to the completeness on the machinery, and the variety of machinery involved, it was determined by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers that we have the basis for a very good industrial museum here in Cass,ﾔ Jaeger said.
In letters sent to governmental agencies requesting funding, the MSRLHA states that the plans calls for the dedication of the museum to take place in 2013, in correlation with West Virginiaﾒs sesquicentennial and the 50th anniversary of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.
The first step in restoring the powerhouse is mitigating asbestos. Once the building is clear of asbestos, the building will be stabilized and returned to its original look.
Cass Superintendent Rob Sovine said when the powerhouse is finished, it will be open to the public.
ﾓWeﾒre thinking of putting a boardwalk in and do a tour,ﾔ he said. ﾓThe plan is to come through, put a boardwalk right through the middle of the mill and come out at the picnic shelter.ﾔ
To view photos from other MSRLHA projects, visit www.msrlha.org