Cheat Mountain Salamander
Cheat Mountain Salamander
Welcome to one of the most unique rail excursions in the world, the Cheat Mountain Salamander. Headquartered on lofty Cheat Mountain at Cheat Bridge, West Virginia, 30 miles south of the mountain gateway of Elkins, WV, the Salamander never leaves its wilderness home even though it covers nearly 80 miles on its two routes.
The northerly trip takes you 22 miles down the Shavers Fork River valley from Cheat Bridge, passing thru areas of extreme isolation in the Monongahela National Forest and numerous rock walls, including imposing "Coal Rock," and around the two sharpest mainline RR curves still in active use in the United States. The excursion stops at the beautiful "High Falls of Cheat," elevation 3,000 feet, entering the falls from the opposite direction of the New Tygart Flyer.
The southerly upriver trip takes you in the opposite direction of the morning trip and deep into the high elevation spruce forest atop the mountain. Your route will wind approximately 17 miles through the Monongahela National Forest, around a large horseshoe curve through the empty "ghost" town of Spruce and finally come to the end at the bottom of a hand-dug notch called the "Big Cut", which at 4,066 feet above sea level, is the highest standard gauged mainline railroad east of the Mississippi River.
This excursion, named in honor of the endangered species that lives exclusively along it's route, the Cheat Mountain Salamander takes you through some of the wildest mountain wilderness you will ever experience. Wildlife is frequently seen during the course of the excursions, which include black bears, turkeys, bald eagles and whitetail deer. You will ride aboard a unique replica of a 1922 Edwards Railway Motor Car, which was built new in 2000 for this rugged mountain service on the West Virginia Central Railroad since normal passenger coaches cannot negotiate the railroad's tight curvatures.
Both trips are approximately 3 hours in duration, which includes ½ hour stops at High Falls and Spruce. Excursions depart from the small station facility on Red Run Road, ½ mile north of where US Rte 250 crosses the Shavers Fork River at Cheat Bridge, WV. Passengers may request to be dropped off for a day of fishing or overnight camping along the route.
Pictures and information were provided by Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, Inc.
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