Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum

Autumn Leaf Scenic Hiwassee River Train Excursion

Tickets Will Go On Sale Monday, July 29th, 2019, AT 6 p.m. EST!

Tickets will be sold exclusively here on our Web site! The link to purchase tickets will be right here and will replace this notice.

Tickets for trips are NOT transferrable to other dates.

Hiwassee River Trip


The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum is once again pleased to announce another Autumn Leaf Rail Excursion through the scenic Hiwassee River Gorge of East Tennessee. The excursion date is set for Sunday, October 13th, 2019 and will offer an opportunity to ride the rails through the one of the most beautiful river gorges in the United States as the railroad tracks travel along the Hiwassee River. An added feature is traversing the famous, spiral "Hiwassee Loop".

Hiwassee Loop
Hiwassee Loop

Your excursion train will travel through the Narrows, where the Hiwassee River flows through rock channels, and the Bald Mountain, or "Hiwassee Loop". The track actually passes over itself on a high trestle during a corkscrew climb up the mountain near Farner. Tracks along this route parallel the river for most of its length, providing views of the lower gorge.

Hiwassee Gorge
Hiwassee Gorge

General Deluxe Coach seating is offered on this excursion, providing passengers with comfortable cushioned seats with large windows. Historic 1950's-era diesel locomotives will pull the vintage enclosed climate-controlled coaches with rest rooms in each car. We are excited to offer seating aboard the luxury cars, which offers two seating options: high-level Dome and comfortable Observation Lounge seating. Dome seating allows passengers a panoramic view of the passing scenery from high above the car. Observation Lounge seating gives passengers a unique view of the railroad over which we pass from the end of the car that will be on the rear of the train. Both seating options in the "Algonquin Park" provide passengers with the opportunity to experience the "glory days" of rail travel in the United States. Each option includes complimentary snack service.

Deluxe Coach Car
Deluxe Coach Seating
Dome Car
Dome Seating
Observation Car
Observation Lounge Seating

Our passengers will have three boarding options for the train in Etowah, TN.

  1. Passengers may opt to drive on their own directly to Etowah, TN. Etowah boarders will be bussed a short distance from the parking lot to and from the train loading location. Passengers need to arrive at the Etowah parking lot no later than 12:15 p.m.
  2. Passengers may catch a tour bus from Johnson City, TN, at 7:15 a.m departure from the parking lot of Liberty Bell Middle School.
  3. Passengers may board a tour bus from the Morristown, TN, at 8:15 a.m. departure from the Expo Center parking lot near the exit of I-81 and US 25 E.

Maps will be provided to all locations.

Before placing your order, please consider where you will be traveling from, and select the best boarding location option for you. Your choice of boarding location will be shown on your confirmation form, and will guarantee you a seat on the bus from that particular location.

NOTE: After passengers order tickets online, they will receive a confirmation of their purchase. A map will be e-mailed to you with your confirmation form. Another confirmation will be emailed approximately three weeks after the ticket purchase and will include more information and a map to the boarding location selected.

Snack items are available for sale on the train including: soft drinks, coffee, water, chips, crackers, and candy bars. Souvenirs are also sold onboard including: t-shirts, caps, and books.

Lunch will be on your own at restaurants in Athens, TN prior to boarding the train in Etowah at 12:45 p.m. for a 1:00 p.m. departure. The train will arrive in Farner, TN at 3:30 p.m. for a short layover, leaving Farner at 3:45 p.m. Upon arrival back at Etowah, passengers will board their motor coach for the return trip home; anticipated arrival back at Morristown at 7:45 p.m., and Johnson City at 8:45 p.m. The motor coaches will make a food stop (again on your own) during this return trip. A loading ramp is available at train boarding location.


All transportation costs are included in the ticket price. The cost is the same whether guests drive to Etowah or ride the tour bus.

[IMPORTANT NOTE: Those ordering tickets separately, but who wish to be seated together, should specify this on the order form]

DOME CAR CLASS ticket price is $175/adult [over 21] (adults only)
OBSERVATION CLASS ticket price is $140/adult and $130/child [age 2-12]
COACH CLASS ticket price is $92/adult and $82/child [age 2-12]

NOTE: Observation Lounge and Dome seating is very limited and will sell out quickly after tickets go on sale.

Tickets may be ordered online only!

Each ticket includes train ride and motor coach to and from Etowah, TN. Meals are not included.


The railroad line was originally built to haul ore from the copper basin in Copperhill, TN. Regularly scheduled passenger trains operated over this line until 1968; the last freight train traveled the "Old Line" in 2001. The Tennessee Overhill Association took over ownership of the rail line in 2004. This will be a unique opportunity to ride on this historic railroad line.


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