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2018 Rail Excursions

Sunday, August 26th, 2018!


On Sunday, August 26th, 2018, the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum will sponsor an additional 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 covers all current operating trackage of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. We are offering this additional excursion due to a quick sell-out of our September 23rd excursion. Tickets from the September 8th or 23rd excursions may NOT be exchanged.

If you're not already on our email list, and want to be among the first to know about our future trips, send a request to be added to our trip announcement list along with your email address to wataugavalley@gmail.com.

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.

The track follows the route of the former Southern Railway's Murphy Branch Line from Dillsboro, 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 the Tuckasegee, Little Tennessee, and Nantahala Rivers, and crosses Fontana Lake on a trestle standing 100 feet above the lake with a span of 780 feet.

Our excursion will depart by tour bus from Johnson City, TN, at 9:15AM from the parking lot of Liberty Bell Middle School. We will have a passenger pick-up at 9:45AM in the Asheville/Weaverville area for passengers who find that location more convenient. We will also pick up passengers in Greeneville, TN, at 8:30AM. 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 opt to drive to meet the train in Dillsboro. Dillsboro boarders will be bussed back to Dillsboro at the end of the train ride.

Our excursion will depart Johnson City, TN, by bus at 9:15AM from the parking lot of Liberty Bell Middle School (click here for map). We have also scheduled passenger pick-ups in Greeneville, TN at 8:30AM (click here for map), and Asheville/Weaverville, NC at 9:45AM (click here for map) for passengers who find those locations more convenient.

Upon arrival 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 1:30 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.

When the train reaches the end of the line, it will return us to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where our busses will be waiting to meet us for the return trip. We expect to arrive back in Weaverville by 8:00 p.m., and Greeneville and Johnson City by 8:45 p.m.

First Class Coach Class Crown Class


Passengers may choose comfortable seating in one of three classes of climate-controlled train cars: [IMPORTANT NOTE: Those ordering tickets separately who wish to be seated together should specify this on the order form]


Pulled Pork BBQ Plate Fire Braised Chicken Salad Veggie Lover Delight Pot Roast

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 [included with First Class ticket purchase]. 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]

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 in gravy served with flavorful carrot soufflé and mashed red-skin potatoes

BOX LUNCH: must be pre-purchased with ticket order at $11.00 per meal.

Includes chips, cookie, and choice of drink. Available for pick up in the Concessions Car

BOX LUNCH OPTION: select on Meal Order Form

Turkey and Cheese on Croissant

Autumn Berry Chicken Salad on Croissant

CONCESSIONS CAR: 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.