the night at Seneca, a "state forest" near Green Back because the
storm-caused power outages had closed the local RV parks.
The forest area was fine, but crowded since the outage impacted
all travelers equally. The camp site was in a heavily wooded
glen close to a small stream and had only "basic" facilities (no
electric, no water, pit toilet) but met our needs. Next
morning, we broke camp and headed to the Cass Scenic Railroad
facility only a few miles away.
The photos below are what we saw.
we pulled into the Cass Scenic Railroad parking area we spotted
this excursion coming back into the station area. Plenty of
smoke being generated by the engine.
engine was rather unusual because it is a "gear drive"
locomotive. More on this later in this page.
the loco passed us we got a view of the V configuration pistons
and center-mounted drive shaft. The crank shaft is in the
lower center of the photo and the pistons are mounted at an angle
in the center of the photo.
loco passed the station and continued on down the line leaving a
huge plume of acrid coal smoke in its wake.
decided to check out the station area and spotted this vintage
were aware that there were hour-long train rides available but the
station agent told us that because it was the Fourth of July, the
railroad was offering short rides for free. The loco on the
right track had reached the extent of its free tour and was headed
back into the station area while the paid train was approaching on
the left track.
view of the opposite side of the loco. Note the water being
spilled from the engine.
the loco passed, we get a better view of the gear drive
mechanism. Visible above are the V-pistons, crank shaft,
drive shaft, U-joints and the direction control valving.
This type of center shaft loco is called a "Heisler" after the
designer/manufacturer. The advantage is that much more
torque is available on the driving wheels. The Heisler, and
the other gear drive locos, are the "four wheel drives" of the
steam engine world. They were designed for heavy loads on
steep grades. West Virginia coal and logging industries
provided both challenges and these locos were locally deployed.
the excursion train came into the yard and stopped we were able to
get a good view of its drive train. This type of loco is
called a Shay, after its designer. The designer was a
dentist and after spending his career struggling to gain access to
teeth, he designed all the working components to be easily
accessible and maintain. Thus, the gears, drive train and
pistons are on the side of the loco. This configuration
drives all axles and has both extension joints and spherical flex
joints in the drive shaft assembly. The fellow on the right
is inspecting and lubricating components.
manufacturer's plaque for the Heisler.
opposed to the Shay, the Heisler has a center drive shaft and uses
conventional U-joints. To improve operating efficiency only
one axle on each truck is driven via gears. The other axle
is driven via a more conventional crank rod.
Heisler U-joints were about 11" across the flats.
opposite side of the Shay truck assembly. This is the
took advantage of the free ride and got aboard the Heisler and
rode around the yard. I asked a ton of questions of the
conductor and was given a free pass to ride in the engine
compartment of the Shay on the upcoming excursion. More on
we hit a grade crossing the engineer blew the steam whistle and it
passed the old Cass lumber mill site. Visible are the
stationary steam generation plant and some of the power
distribution shafts. These shafts were powered via a steam
engine and a variety of belts. The pulleys are visible on
returned to the station and went into the gift shop. From
the elevated deck, we got a nice view of the Shay. Note the
smoke and steam coming from the cab area? The outside
temperature was about 95 degrees so the temperature in the cab
must have been hellish. Seeing the smoke and steam and
knowing that the excursion was about 1 hour, both Kathleen and I
took a pass on the cab ride.
decided to mosey on and as we departed we got this shot of the
smoky station area. Anyone downwind of the Shay's smoke
plume was pretty unhappy I am sure.
headed to the southwest and encountered more storm damage.
These power poles were leaning heavily due to the force of the
storm winds. The close pole is actually fractured.
the root ball on this fallen tree.
farms in this area were located in a truly beautiful area.
The one above is a log cabin on the left that has been extended
using more modern building techniques.
We passed plenty of downed power poles. The area
had been without power for about 6 days when we came
through. No power = no a/c (it was hot). In addition
to no a/c, most of these farms have electric pumps on their wells,
so no power = no water. One of the towns we went through was
having a benefit lunch for the local fire department so we
stopped. We went to the station to make a donation and all
their equipment was out in the yard rather than in the
buildings. Instead, the buildings were full of pallets of
bottled and canned water. They were making deliveries to
farms and houses that had no water. They also had an
emergency shower and laundry facility for use by local citizens.
This family was very lucky. That large tree could have crushed the front portion of the house when it fell.
Further down the road we passed a section where the fallen trees were large enough to crush the guard rails. These trees clearly blocked the road and required a bunch of work to clear. If you were unfortunate enough to be under the tree when it fell, your vehicle would be toast.
This tree would have taken the power and phone lines with it, but somehow it missed. But, note the angle of the power pole and the trees a bit further down the road. They were in danger of falling as well.
The tree above was photographed on the outskirts of
Lewisburg, WV. The tree did not break the lines, but it will
have to be cut down. As you can see, the traffic lights are
functional but power in this area was spotty. We got fuel in
town and were told that the town was being powered by a "1
gigawatt generator donated by CBS Networks". I doubt that
there was a 1 GW generator any place nearby, but it COULD have
been a 1 MW generator. But in any case, the station was able
to power its pumps and fill my tank. Most grades of fuel
were unavailable at that station as the tanks had run dry due to a
local "run" on fuel. We were lucky to be able to get
fuel. As it turned out, we could have gone another 400 miles
on the fuel we had but it is always best to get fuel when you can.
From Lewisburg, we decided to get on the freeway and head
west. Along the way, we passed these LMTV 5 ton trucks on
the side of the road. The markings say "WVARNG" for West
Virginia Army Reserve National Guard. The National Guard had
been put on notice when a state of emergency was declared due to
the widespread power outages and road blockages. These
fellows were likely returning to their bases since their trucks
We got off the freeway and headed south along the New
River. We got this shot at a view point. The river is
wide, but not that deep.
Further on we spotted this fisherman trying his luck in
The Corps of Engineers had built a flood control dam on
the river and on the upstream side was a state park and marina.
We headed south to Pipestem State Park. The park
was big and had a sky way to take tourists to the bottom of the
canyon from the facilities on the ridge. We spent our night
at the park using our generator to run the a/c. The park had
gravity feed water, but no power. Sadly, the water heater
for the showers were electric so we were treated to cold
showers. But other than the cold shower, the outages had no
direct impact on us.
Next day we continued on into Virginia and in Grundy we
came upon this extensive road cut in progress.
My heart goes out to those who were impacted by the large storm that hit the area. This sort of thing reaffirms the requirement to be prepared for the unexpected.
destination: Mammoth Cave National Park.
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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2012, all rights
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.