Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society hosts Smoky Mountains train excursion March 24

Image courtesy of Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum

From the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum:


If you are experiencing the winter doldrums, shake off the gloomy days looking forward to a nice, refreshing and scenic train ride through the mountains of the Southern Appalachian region. Plan an enjoyable spring train with us aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad!

The track follows the route of the former Southern Railway’s Murphy Branch Line, established in 1891, with its five percent grade and many bridges. Much of the route hugs the banks of the Tuckasegee, Little Tennessee, and Nantahala Rivers, and it crosses Fontana Lake on a trestle standing 100 feet above the lake, spanning 780 feet.

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad has become a favorite of film producers over the years. The train wreck scene in the 1993 movie, The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, was filmed in Dillsboro along the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. [The wreckage of the set can still be viewed on the outbound train excursion from Dillsboro.] The railroad was also used in the filming of the 1996 comedy, My Fellow Americans, starring Jack Lemmon and James Gardner, when they stumble onto a charter train full of UNC-Chapel Hill fans headed for the NCAA Final Four. Train scenes in the 1998 movie, Forces of Nature, starring Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock, also were filmed on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

On Saturday, March 24, the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum will sponsor its Spring Excursion – a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad through the majestic mountains and beautiful countryside of western North Carolina from Dillsboro through Bryson City and the Nantahala Gorge. This trip will be the first time we have offered a train ride on all the completed operating trackage of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Our excursion will depart Johnson City, Tenn., by motor coach at 9:15 a.m. from the parking lot of Liberty Bell Middle School. We will have a passenger pick-up at 9:45 a.m. in the Asheville/Weaverville area for passengers who find that location more convenient. We will also pick up passengers in Greeneville, Tenn., at 9:45 a.m. and in Morristown, Tenn., at 10:15 a.m. En route to Dillsboro there will be a stop-over at Ryan’s Steak House in Sylva, where passengers may purchase lunch if desired. [Passengers may choose to drive on their own to Dillsboro but at the same ticket cost.]

Upon arriving in Dillsboro, passengers will have time to see the Jarrett House, a hotel landmark built in 1884, and visit shops before boarding the excursion train at 1:45 p.m. for the 4.5-hour trip. As we leave Dillsboro, we will see the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad shops and pass the filming location of The Fugitive. The track follows along the Tuckasegee River and travels through the famous Cowee Tunnel on its way to Bryson City. Rising to Fontana Lake we follow the Little Tennessee River, cross the Fontana Lake Trestle, pass the Nantahala Outdoor Center, and enter the breathtaking Nantahala Gorge, following the shore line of the exciting Nantahala River. Play the video clip online at our web site http://www.wataugavalleynrhs.org/ to see the natural beauty that awaits you.

Upon reaching the end of the line, the train will return to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where our busses will meet us. We expect to arrive back in Weaverville and Morristown by 7:30 p.m., Greeneville by 8:00 p.m., and Johnson City by 8:30 p.m.

Tickets and pre-purchased meals may be ordered online by credit card at http://www.wataugavalleynrhs.org/.

Click on the EXCURSION link. A printable Ticket/Meal Order Form is available there also. Or you may send a check or money order along with NUMBER OF TICKETS, CLASS OF SERVICE and PRE-PAID MEAL choices to: Spring 2018 GSMR Excursion, Watauga Valley RHS&M, P. O. Box 432, Johnson City, TN 37605-0432.

  • TICKETS – Passengers may choose comfortable seating in one of three classes of climate-controlled train cars:
    • FIRST CLASS ticket price is $156/adult over 21 and includes a diner meal
      • IMPORTANT NOTE: Passengers ordering tickets separately but wishing to be seated together should specify this on their order forms
    • CROWN CLASS ticket price is $97/adult and $79/child [2 -12]
    • COACH CLASS ticket price is $85/adult and $69/child [2-12]

      • Please indicate if you will accept an alternate class of service, should your choice be sold out.
  • MEALS – Passengers have several options for meals aboard the train:
    • DINING CAR MEAL – Diner meals must be pre-purchased with ticket order at $15.00 per meal. A truly unique, on-board dining experience in the grand tradition. All dinners include dessert and choice of drink.
  • ENTREES: [select on Meal Order Form; included with First Class ticket]
    • Pulled Pork Boston Roast
      • rubbed with our special spices, then slow-roasted to perfection; served with slaw and cinnamon apples
    • Fire Braised Chicken Salad
      • freshly made gourmet salad of cashews, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, fresh
      • blueberries, edamame, red onion, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, napa cabbage, and
      • kale tossed with a light pomegranate blueberry dressing and topped with fire-braised
      • seasoned sliced chicken
    • Veggie Lover Delight
      • freshly made gourmet salad of cashews, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, fresh
      • blueberries, edamame, red onion, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, napa cabbage, and
      • kale tossed with a light pomegranate blueberry dressing
    • Pot Roast
      • slow-roasted, melt-in-your-mouth, seasoned pot roast served with flavorful
      • green beans and mashed red-skinned potatoes
  • BOX LUNCH – must be pre-purchased with ticket order at $11.00 per meal. Includes chips, cookie, and choice of drink. Passengers will pick up in the Concessions Car
    • BOX LUNCH OPTION: [select on Meal Order Form]
      • Turkey and Cheese on Croissant
      • Baked Chicken Breast on Croissant
  • CONCESSIONS CAR – sandwiches, drinks, chips, and snacks will be available for purchase on the train
  • BRING YOUR OWN – a small cooler is acceptable if you wish to bring food with you on the train

Questions about the trip? Go to our web set www.wataugavalleynrhs.org, phone 423-753-5797 or email wataugavalley@embarqmail.com

About Max Hunt
Max Hunt grew up in South (New) Jersey and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2011. History nerd; art geek; connoisseur of swimming holes, hot peppers, and plaid clothing. Follow me @J_MaxHunt

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16 thoughts on “Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society hosts Smoky Mountains train excursion March 24

  1. J. Steptoe

    When is the next excursion? Do you have one during the summer? Thanks for any info you can give me.

  2. Ruth Soden

    Please let me know when your next excursion is. Is your newsletter free? If so, please send to Ruth Soden, 1125 Alpine Lane, Dothan, Ala 36301-3401 Thank you!!

  3. Gaynell Cordell

    Please add me to the list for notification of future excursions. Thank you .

  4. Laurie Schneider

    Please add me to your list for any upcoming train excursions …

  5. Shelby Boudreau

    Would love to be notified of next excursion thank you in advance

    • Ronald Simon

      please add me to your lists of up coming train excursions.. and news letter

  6. Francis Riley

    Please add me to your trip announcement list. Thank you. Sorry I missed out on this years trip. It was available and I hesitated placing my order. Came back to site and trip was sold out.

  7. kent moon

    Went on the March 24 2018 Smokey Mountain Excursion. What a nightmare, way overbooked and chaos .Never again !!!!!

  8. Hughston Boyd

    Great train ride good food only one thing the little guy Tony was screaming at the guest if that asked one questions screaming not talking sort of took away from the Train ride maybe little Tony was just having a bad day was a good time little Tony just needs to get a grip.

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