"Cass Scenic Railroad: Fifty Years a State Park -- A Century of Steam On Bald Knob." By Tim Hensley and Bob Withers with Ken Miller. Pocahontas Productions. 238 pages. $59.95.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's Cass Scenic Railroad celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 and, sure enough, there's a commemorative book to mark that historic occasion.
And what a handsome book it is.
"Cass Scenic Railroad: Fifty Years a State Park -- A Century of Steam On Bald Knob" offers a detailed history of the tourist railroad and the logging town that gave birth to it. The encyclopedia-sized volume is illustrated with more than 500 color and black-and-white photographs, many of them published for the first time.
Over the years there have been other books about Cass, and no doubt there will be still more in the future, but this volume seems likely to become the standard reference work on this popular West Virginia attraction.
The book is the handiwork of three fellows who know their stuff -- Tim Hensley, of Kenova; Bob Withers, of Huntington; and Ken Miller, of Salem, Va.
Hensley, a former CSX employee, has spent the last 12 years as a locomotive engineer on the Huntington-Charlottesville, Va., portion of Amtrak's Cardinal route. He's also the engineer for the popular New River Train, which each fall runs between Huntington and Hinton. A nationally recognized expert on the Norfolk & Western Railway, he wrote the text for "Steel, Steam & Stars," a collection of O. Winston Link's justly famed N&W photographs.
Bob Withers is a retired reporter and feature writer for The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch and the author of a number of train books, including the authoritative and richly detailed "The President Travels by Train."
Miller is a talented graphic designer and the author of "Norfolk & Western Class J: The Finest Steam Passenger Locomotive."
Their book is a joint venture of Pocahontas Productions and the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society. Pocahontas Productions is a newly formed partnership between Hensley and Miller with a goal of producing quality books on the region's considerable railroad heritage.
Among them, the three men have made more trips to Cass than they can count and, accordingly, they've laced their new book with their own recollections. But more than that, they've reached out to dozens of other folks for their memories (and their photographs). From the outset of their project, the authors were determined to tell the Cass story in as complete a fashion as possible.