2017 Rail Excursions
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The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum is once again pleased to announce its annual Spring Rail Excursion through the scenic Hiwassee River Gorge of East Tennessee. The excursion date is set for Saturday, April 1, 2017, 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".
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.
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 car "Algonquin Park" 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.
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.
Our trip will begin in Johnson City, TN at 7:15 am on the morning of April 1 at the Liberty Bell Middle School parking lot at 718 Morningside Drive in Johnson City, TN where passengers will board a motor coach to Etowah, TN. We will also pick up passengers at the Sleep Solution Mattress Gallery parking lot at 2030 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy, Greeneville, TN at 7:45 am as well as passengers in Morristown, TN at 8:15 am at the Expo Center parking lot near the exit of I-81 and US 25E. This year we have added a pickup in Knoxville, TN at at 9:15 am at the Walmart parking lot at 8435 Walbrook Drive, just off Walker Springs I-40/I-75 exit 379A . (A map will be included with tickets to your designated parking area.) Lunch will be on your own at restaurants in Athens, TN prior to boarding the train in Etowah at 12:45 pm for a 1:00 pm departure. The train will arrive in Farner, TN at 3:30 pm for a short layover, leaving Farner at 3:45 pm. Upon arrival back at Etowah, passengers will board their motor coach for the return trip home; anticipated arrival back at Knoxville is 6:45 pm, Morristown at 7:15 pm, Greeneville at 7:45 pm and Johnson City at 8:15 pm. The motor coaches will make a food stop (again on your own) during this return trip. A loading ramp is available at all train boarding locations.
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.