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Durbin & Greenbrier Scenic Excursion Season Ends Soon

November 10, 2007
By WAYNE SHEETS, Contributing Business Writer
    The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad and its West Virginia scenic rail excursions have enjoyed its most successful season yet, but as always, all good things must end. There are, however, a few more runs to be enjoyed and they promise to end the season with long-lasting memories. 

    Starting today, and on Nov. 17 and 24, the train will depart the depot at 11:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. respectively. Each run will be to Tygart Valley Junction, a 3 1/2 hour trip along the beautiful Tygart Valley River to the junction where the West Virginia Central Railroad connects with the main line. Coach, parlor car and family parlor car seating is available and reservations are required.

    On Nov. 17, there will also be a “Skullduggery on the Silo Circuit” Murder Mystery Dinner Train, departing the station at 4:30 p.m. In 1915, vaudeville theaters and speakeasies were in their heyday. Large entertainment producers from cultural hubs such as New York and Chicago wanted to expand their piece of the pie by providing entertainment not only to urban Americans, but also to the rural parts of the country. As a result, they created the Silo Circuit — a clearinghouse of actors, musicians, acrobats, jugglers, contortionists, animal acts and many other curiosities who would travel from small town to small town by train to perform as one of the nine acts in a vaudeville show. Entertainers would stay and perform in one town for a month and then back on the train to another small destination. The one element that theater owners and producers failed to consider was that each one of those traveling entertainers yearned to be so successful on the Silo Circuit that they couldn’t help but move on to the big time. The competition was sometimes murderous. This trip promises to be an exciting one.

    Then on Dec. 1, the “Whoville Express” will depart the Elkins Depot at 10 a.m. for a two-hour fun-filled journey with some well-known Christmas characters. On Dec. 8 and 9, there will be two trains each day with departures at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. for the same fun-filled journey.

    Who better than Little Cindy-Lou Who, Max and the Grinch himself to help families celebrate the holiday season? Spend a Who-filled journey with The Old Brick Playhouse on the Who Christmas Train with singing, face painting and making balloon animals, while hearing Dr. Seuss’s classic Christmas tale. Who wouldn’t want to go? Perhaps Santa himself might show up. ... Who knows?

    The grand finale comes on Dec. 15 with the Yuletide Follies Christmas Dinner Train. Folks are invited to join The Old Brick Playhouse actors once again aboard the New Tygart Flyer and spend an evening enjoying favorite Christmas traditions coupled with hilarious, zany antics. This cabaret-style show includes familiar songs, comic sketches and holiday scenes. It’s 24 hours before Christmas and all comic madness is about to break loose as the delightfully eccentric characters attempt to cope with seasonal traumas such as a disaster prone little theater production and a yard decorating contest gone awry.

    Don’t miss these opportunities to enjoy fine, relaxing dining, gorgeous scenery and excellent entertainment all rolled up into one unforgettable experience. For more information and to make reservations, call 1-877-MTN-RAIL (1-877-686-7245) or visit

    The Rotary Club of Elkins has some very interesting guest speakers for its Monday luncheons, and the gentlemen who spoke on Oct. 22 was no exception. Jonathan Schafler, manager of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, is a dynamic speaker who has the ability to mix on-the-job humor with the seriousness of job.

    A lack of space here prohibits a long synopsis of his talk, so let’s suffice it to say that he has managed wildlife refuges and national parks from Kodiak, Alaska, to Puerto Rico. While spending 20 years as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, he taught more than 10,000 children in the Service’s Sea Partner’s Campaign for maritime environmental education. While in Spain when deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom, he developed a “Nature Boy” character that taught an environmental ethic to area residents using radio spots, newspaper articles and an Earth Day event that collected 42 tons of trash.

    Since 2002, Schafler has been developing “The Teddy Project,” a partnership with the National Wildlife Service and 38 animation colleges throughout the United States to create short educational public service cartoons that share wildlife and wild places with America’s youth. Now in its fifth year, the project has completed 25 films, has 19 films in production in 12 states and every Fish and Wildlife Service Region and has more than 100,000 student hours invested in creating cartoons that teach and environmental ethic.

    Just in case you may have been wondering, here are some numbers on the cost of the “war on terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan — so far. Since 2000, Congress has appropriated about $610 billion to cover the cost of U.S. operations in Iraq ($450 billion) and Afghanistan ($127 billion), and for other operations and activities related to the war in terrorism ($32 billion), and other activities related to the war on terrorism, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Obviously, these totals don’t add up because of rounding the CSBA said.

    Illustrative estimates derived by the Congressional Budget office indicate that additional costs could range from $481 billion to as much as $1.01 trillion from fiscal year 2008 to 2017, depending on how quickly and deeply the U.S. draws down its forces. Taken together, these estimates suggest that the total cost of ongoing military operations could ultimately, by 2017, range from some $1.09 trillion to $1.62 trillion, including perhaps $225 billion to $330 billion for the war in Afghanistan and $835 billion to $1.26 trillion for the war in Iraq.

    Research on the cost of both the Korean War ($64 billion), and the Vietnam War ($140 billion) reveals that the mess in Iraq has already cost us more than triple that of both of these wars, and from the looks of it, the outcome is going to be even less conclusive.

    A couple weeks ago, I wrote a story regarding the difficulty employers have in finding and keeping employees. In that article, I mentioned, erroneously, that the employees of Aegis Communications received double pay for working on Sunday.

    Members of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, and many others, are working hard planning and making arrangements for the Christmas parade that will take place on Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. Donations of clothing items, especially socks and earmuffs, gloves, warm headwear, sweaters and other items appropriate for cold weather, are being accepted at the chamber office. Volunteers to work the event are also needed. If you would like to help, get in touch with Ellen Spears, executive director of the chamber, or one of her assistants by calling 636-2717.

    A part of this year’s Christmas parade activities will include several booths occupied by local vendors who will be selling Christmastime items, sweets, crafts and many other collectibles. These booths are 6-feet-by-8-feet in size and are about 6 feet tall. The chamber is looking for secure, dry storage for these booths after the event is over. There are 14 of them and will require about 700 square feet of storage space. If anyone has space for storage of these booths, or knows of someone who might, please give the chamber office a call.



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