Cass, W. Va. – The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, the organization based in Clifton Forge, Virginia, that preserves and publishes the history of the C&O Railway, recently held its annual member convention in Pocahontas County, West Virginia in conjunction with Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. First founded in Alderson, West Virginia in 1969, the non-profit organization’s tradition of holding an annual convention started in 1970 when its earliest members met for the first time in Huntington, West Virginia. Growing through the decades, the group would become a global network of over 2,000 members that includes historians, authors, and modelers with a shared interest in the C&O Railway.
Following the 2023 event, C&O Historical Society President Mark Totten celebrated the completion of their latest annual conference, “Our 52nd Annual Conference in Cass, West Virginia was an enormous success thanks to the hospitality of Cass Scenic Railroad, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, and several amazing teams of contributors who worked to make the event memorable.” Sixty-six C&OHS members were in attendance, enjoying a full agenda of history and fellowship in Pocahontas County from August 17-20.
Earlier in the year, the State of West Virginia celebrated the reconnection of the 15-mile-long section of the C&O Railway’s former Greenbrier Subdivision between Cass and Durbin, West Virginia, following a multi-year restoration completed by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad and the West Virginia State Rail Authority. In 1985, the former C&O rails along the Greenbrier River were ripped apart during a major flood, ending train travel to this region of the state for nearly 40 years.
The year 2023 also marked a special year for the history studied by the C&O Historical Society. In 1873, the original Chesapeake & Ohio main line was completed in the New River Gorge, linking rails in the east and west to complete a major transportation system that is still in use today by CSX Transportation, the successor company to the C&O.
The re-linking of the line between Cass and Durbin was the deciding factor in choosing Cass for the location of the C&OHS’s annual conference. Totten explained, “One hundred fifty years after the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway celebrated the completion of its ‘Great Connection’ between the Virginia shore and the Ohio River, we could not imagine a more symbolically appropriate place to hold our 2023 convention.”
Membership in the C&O Historical Society includes a subscription to the C&O Historical Magazine, which talks about the history of the railroad, modeling, steam and diesel locomotives, passenger and freight cars, and railroad operations. Individual membership dues are currently $49.50 for one year. The Society also publishes books, the world-famous “Chessie the Railroad Kitten” calendar, and offers exclusive merchandise. Members also receive a 10% discount at ChessieShop.com and free entrance into the organization’s museum, the C&O Railway Heritage Center, which is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., at 705 Main Street, Clifton Forge, Virginia. More information on benefits, including how to become a C&OHS member online, can be found on ChessieShop.com.
The C&OHS archive database is available online at archives.cohs.org. Updates and additional information can be found on Facebook under @cohs.org or on Instagram @ChessiesRoad. Questions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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