The Mountain State Railroad and Logging Historical Association’s (MSR&LHA) first year of involvement with Cass Scenic Railroad State Park’s Logging Days has drawn to a close, and was more successful than anticipated by most park and organization officials.
While the annual Logging Days event at Cass actually originated in 2014, the event’s first three years were organized solely by park officials, and while successful, it was felt that MSR&LHA’s involvement would be a benefit to all involved beginning with this year’s event.
The 2017 event kicked off Friday evening with a special Logger’s Dinner offered by the Last Run Restaurant in the Cass Company Store. The evening was augmented with a musical performance by Sugar Run.
On Saturday, a rarely used portion of Cass known as “Slabtown” saw a temporary wave of new life as volunteers and guests occupied the site to celebrate some of the more unique aspects of present day logging culture.
Features included: sawmill demonstrations by Jeff and Donna Kennon and their team who cut some custom lumber for the park and also some unique folding chairs for guests; chainsaw carving by Brad Holbert, which included the carving of animals such as owls and turtles from raw wood; blacksmithing by Joey Browning and Eugene Ratliff, who crafted items such as hooks and fire stokers similar to those made in early 20th century logging camps; and Cass themed O-scale model trains operated by MSR&LHA directors Keith Grubb and Erik Yoak. The event was set to traditional folk music performed by Andy Fitzgibbon and friends. The air brush art work of Ray Cowell was also displayed, although Cowell was unable to appear at the event due to unforeseen circumstances.
Also featured were the Whistle Blow, which has been an MSR&LHA tradition for many years.
Special guest Artie Barkley shared his whistle collection as well as memories of late Mower Lumber Company and early Cass Scenic Railroad operations.
A contest-style log cutting and axe throwing demonstration by the world famous Cogar Family rounded out the day.
While no demonstrations were offered on Sunday, CSRR continued with the Logging Days theme by offering a discussion on the production of certain types of dye from tannin, a chemical that is extracted from the roots and bark of coniferous trees. A tour of the site of the former Cass Extract Plant was also offered.
With this year’s event attended by hundreds of guests to the park, MSR&LHA and Cass Scenic Railroad hope that next year’s event will be as well received as this year’s.
Planning discussions have already begun to continue and improve the new tradition in future years.
Matt Wilson is Vice-President of The Mountain State Railroad and Logging Historical Association.