On Sunday, November 1st, 2020, the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum will sponsor an Autumn Leaf train excursion - a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad through the majestic mountains and beautiful countryside of western North Carolina from Bryson City, NC and on to the Nantahala Gorge, NC and return back to Bryson City, NC. This trip covers most of the current operating trackage of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad has become a favorite of film producers over the years. The railroad was also used in the filming of the 1996 comedy, My Fellow Americans, starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner, 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.
The track follows the route of the former Southern Railway's "Murphy Branch Line" from Bryson City, NC, to the Nantahala Outdoor Recreation Center. The line was established in 1891, with a maximum 5.8 percent grade and many bridges. Much of the route hugs the banks of Little Tennessee, and Nantahala Rivers, and crosses Fontana Lake on a trestle standing 100 feet above the lake with a span of 780 feet.
Lodging information will be sent out with confirmation form in the Bryson City area.
Our scenic rail excursions take you from the historic depot in Bryson City, NC, through the countryside of Western North Carolina and the Smokies.
Upon arrival in Bryson City, NC, passengers will have time to have a choice of several restaurants in town and visit the many shops. Bryson City is a laid-back, non-touristy town of 1,300 with more stop signs than stoplights. It's an easily stroll-able town with local bookstores and arts and crafts galleries with working artisans, a bike shop, two fly fishing shops, a historical museum, a fly fishing museum, an aquarium, a scenic train, two breweries, and a surprising variety of restaurants. Bryson City is only 10 miles from the famous Cherokee Indian Reservation.
PLEASE CLICK TO READ OUR DISCLAIMER
All excursion ticket holders will a get complimentary admission to the Smoky Mountain Lionel Train Museum before boarding the train. The museum boasts a collection of 7,000 Lionel engines, cars and accessories, impressive operating layout and children's activity center.
As we leave Bryson City, we will see the Great Smoky Mountains to the right of the train. The track travels through 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. At the end of the gorge, we will trace the tracks back to Bryson City. The train will stop for a short break at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Note: The train is long with extra passenger cars for social distancing. It may be a lengthy walk to the Nantahala Outdoor Center during the break stop. Please consider staying on the train if you have difficulty walking distances.
Passengers may choose to ride in comfort in First Class, Crown Class, Tourist Coach, or Open Air Coach. All classes offer seating in vintage, restored passenger cars. Tourist Coach Class cars feature ceiling fans and windows that open and close for fresh–air viewing. Open Coach Class is great for taking pictures and seeing the beautiful scenery. Crown Class cars offer larger windows for better viewing (windows do not open) and climate control for passenger comfort. First Class passengers will enjoy club car (lounge car) seating, where large windows offer wonderful viewing (windows do not open) and climate control. The First Class ticket includes a meal and dessert. All passenger cars are heated (except Open Air) and have restrooms throughout the train.
[IMPORTANT NOTE: Those ordering tickets separately, but who wish to be seated together, should specify this on the order form]
BOX LUNCH – must be pre-purchased with ticket order at $11.00 per meal. Includes chips, cookie, and choice of drink.
BOX LUNCH OPTION: [select on Meal Order Form]
Turkey and Cheese on Croissant
Autumn Berry Chicken Salad on Croissant
CONCESSIONS CART – sandwiches, drinks, chips, etc., 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.
NO REFUNDS ON TICKET PURCHASES
Some Safety Rules:
Our train is a SMOKING/VAPOR-FREE train, which means, nowhere on the train, at all, is there a place to smoke/vapor. Once you board the train, you will not be able to smoke again to the end of the train trip back in Bryson City. Please do NOT wear any high heel, or open-toe shoes on board the train. When the train moves, high heel shoes may cause someone to lose their balance and open-toe shoes are unsafe to wear on the train due to gaps between railroad cars. Appropriate clothing is strongly suggested. Safety is our number-one concern.
**This trip will be handicap accessible. On-board restrooms may not accommodate all passengers. We will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate differently abled passengers who desire to ride this train. Please email us with your request if needed.
The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and its representatives act only as agents for the passengers with respect to rail transportation, food service, and other services offered, and as such hold themselves free of any liability for any injury, delay, loss, equipment failure, substitution, or damage from any cause whatsoever. This includes schedule changes due to weather problems or any other factor. Railroad equipment may be substituted at anytime for some unforeseen reason.
You will also be asked when you board the train to sign a waiver for everyone’s protection stating that a passenger has not had within the last 14 days, 1) exposure to any person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, or 2) exhibited symptoms of COVID-19. The passenger also agrees to comply with any rules and procedures adopted by Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. The waiver is for the protection and safety of all passengers on the train. All passengers will be required to wear a mask or plastic shield while on board the excursion train.
The sponsoring organization is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and is operating the train trip to help fund restoration of railroad equipment, maintain its museum, and associated railroad historical projects. No part of the ticket cost is tax deductible. No refunds are allowed, but we will attempt to connect you with someone on the waiting list wanting to purchase tickets.