Trespassing in Climax Territory. It's long been known that geared steam locomotives are the masters of logging track. "Logging track" is a kind way of saying track that is hastily installed, intentionally temporary, poorly ballasted....and sometimes under water. The unchallenged king of "logging track" is the Climax Engine. It's been said that a Climax will track two scratches in the dirt and I've seen photos from back in the day which do all but confirm that claim. For the past decade or so, the only usable stretch of the old C&O Greenbrier Division has been the stomping ground of Moore-Keppel Climax #3, a 55-Ton, 2-Trucker that is now operated by the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. Operating as the "Durbin Rocket", Climax #3 has been right in her element, running on trackage that has received little maintenance since line was abandoned by the C&O 30 years ago.
So....what the heck is this 90-Ton, 3-Truck Heisler doing trespassing in the lair of the Climax? Well, in 2015, when the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley took over operations at the Cass Scenic Railroad, a decision was made to re-open the line from Cass to Durbin. It's a project that's probably going to take several years to complete. One of the consequences of re-linking Cass to Durbin is that the Durbin Rocket operation will no longer be considered insular by the FRA, and little Climax #3, which has been operating with just a state boiler certificate, will now need a 1,472 Service Day Inspection to be legal to run. So, last year, it was decided to bring the Climax to the Cass Shops to begin the needed boiler inspection, and in the meantime bring Cass Heisler #6 to Durbin to power "The Rocket." At Cass, the Heiser was mostly a back-up engine anyway, and her faster speeds on flat stretches of track made her the natural choice to fill in for the Climax. She's seen here, pulling a morning photo freight, just a mile and a half south of Durbin. A quick look at the rails in front of the Heisler's pilot will give you a pretty good idea why little Climax #3 has been the ideal power on this line for over a decade.