Invented to do the impossible, the Shay logging locomotive was designed to climb the steepest grades, swing around hairpin curves and negotiate frail temporary tracks. In addition, they had to haul incredibly heavy loads, from woods to mill. Power was all-important. Back in 1911, West Virginia led the nation with more than 3,000 miles of logging railroad line. All is gone now, except for the 11 miles at Cass, restored just as it was in the early 1900's, making Cass Scenic Railroad State Park America's authentic operating museum of lumber railroading.
Unlike standard steam locomotives, Shays and the similarly designed Climax and Heisler engines are driven by direct gearing to each and every wheel. The smooth, even flow of power enables the engines to negotiate twisting mountain grades.
All three types are represented in the Cass Collection, along with an example of a "rod" style mainline Iron Horse. Shay #2 is an example of a "Pacific Coast" Shay, the only one ever to be used east of the Mississippi. A Pacific Coast is a souped-up 70-ton three truck Shay. They featured superheat, a bigger firebox, lower gear ratio, steel cab, and steel truck frames. Shay #2 is the only Pacific Coast Shay in the east. Another in the collection, Big 6 is the last Shay ever built and the largest still in existence, weighing in at 162 tons. The collection also features Shay #5, the second oldest Shay still in operation.
These working artifacts remain useful today as priceless and almost antique relics of the grand days of logging by rail. You are invited to look them over and visit our shop where they are carefully maintained to exacting standards.