Nature giveth....and nature taketh away. The overgrown siding on the old C&O Durbin Branch is home to a number of pieces of ancient railroad equipment that probably should have been scrapped decades ago and are now being slowly and steadily reclaimed by mother nature. Such is the case with what appears to be an old steel-sheathed, wooden combination car. As with most of the other pieces on this dead line, there is no handy-dandy guide that tells us anything about where this car spent its working years, or why it is here, but with a little sleuthing on the internet, I've managed to find some fairly substantial clues.
The best evidence seems to indicate that this car spent its last years on the fabled Buffalo Creek and Gauley, which was the last regular steam railroad in the US. The car was apparently built by Harlon & Hollingsworth of Wilmington, DE in the 1880's for the Philadelphia and Reading RR. How many times it changed hands before getting to the BC&G is anyone's guess. Photos exist on the internet of this combination car at the BC&G, lettered "X-6", which would have been a maintenance-of-way designation. These photos also show the words "Dining Car" on the side of it, and interior shots suggest that it was used as a kitchen on wheels to feed MOW crews. The photos show that as late as 1961, the car was in good shape for an 80-year old piece. After the BC&G folded, this car may have changed hands a couple of times, before being donated to the Cass Scenic Railroad in 1967, in good condition. Unfortunately, it was neither protected, nor well-cared-for, and eventually, the roof became compromised. Once that happened, mother nature began to eat Combine X-6 for lunch. Except for the end walls at the platforms, the steel sheathing is gone now, and the wood frame is rotting away. The steel bracing rods appear to be all that is keeping it from totally collapsing into itself. Fifty years ago, this unit was a museum-quality piece, just waiting for someone to save it. In another 50, it will likely be little more than a magnetic anomaly along the Greenbrier River.