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                   


            


       


          


After a couple of years of commuting, I discovered that the only way to do the Cass weekend was to stay in one of the company houses that were now cabins for the state park. No commute, and the evenings were spent on the porch swing listening to the whistles of the Shays up at the shop as they switched the next day’s train. For some reason I can’t recall, I stopped


going to Cass in the 1990s, at least for the MSRLA event. After I started attending photo specials organized by Carl Franz I re- turned to Cass for his events, figuring that the photo lines with 80 people were more manageable than the photo lines with 250 people that attended the railfan weekend. In the intervening years, a paved road had been cut through the mountains west of Cass to the Snowshoe ski resort, and Carl based his trips out of there. Joe Gonzales, one of the organizers of the


MSRLA events since way back, had been af- ter me to gt back down to Cass for the rail- fan weekend for a couple of years. I worked with Joe and the rest of the Cass night pho- to team during the Train Festivals at Owos- so, Mich., Petersburg, W.Va., and Rock Is- land, Ill., and had a great time (pizza and night photo sessions — perfect together). Then R&R contributor Chase Gunnoe called and invited me down to show my Jim Boyd multi-media tribute at the Cass weekend


this year and that was the perfect excuse. Schedule-wise, it wasn’t the greatest — I had to sandwich Cass in between commit- ments in the north on Thursday night and Sunday night — but I would have the chance to enjoy both night photo sessions and the train ride to Bald Knob on Saturday. One of my favorite drives is down the val-


ley to Cass, and it has only gotten more pleasant since West Virginia upgraded Route 55 across the mountains into Moore- field. The way most first-timers get to Cass from the northeast is to take I-81 to Staunton, Va., (the closest point on I-81 when you look at a map, but after flying down the interstate you are suddenly hit with two-plus hours of twisty mountain roads through Monterey, Va., to reach the valley at Route 28. My preferred way was to leave I-81 at Winchester, Va., and head across Route 50 through Romney to reach the valley. But Robert Byrd, bless his heart, sought megabucks from the feds to upgrade West Virginia’s highways through the mountains, and when Route 55 was turned into a four-lane almost-super highway, it eliminated almost all of the wear and tear on your brakes with its smooth grades (and it’s doggone scenic, to boot). Just hop off I-81 at Strasburg, Va., deal with some two-lane highway on the Virginia side of the moun- tains and next thing you know, you’re drift-


             


 55


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