On Saturday, May 20th, 2023, the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum will sponsor a spring blossom 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 a lot of the current operating trackage of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
Patrons will have two choices in getting to the Bryson City, NC Train Station. They can either drive directly to Bryson City, NC or board a motor coach out of Johnson City, TN. For many passengers, it's closer to just drive from their location to Bryson City. Check to see which is closer from your location. Please make your selection on the order form when purchasing your tickets.
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.
Maps to the Bryson City Depot and the motor coach pick-up in Johnson City, TN, along with lodging information, will be sent out with your confirmation form.
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.
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. 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. Crown Class cars offer larger windows for better viewing (windows do not open) and climate control for passenger comfort. 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. All passenger cars are heated (except Open Air) and have restrooms throughout the train.
Click Below to Watch Sample Footage of Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum Excursions
[IMPORTANT NOTE: Those ordering tickets separately, but who wish to be seated together, should specify this on the order form]
FIRST CLASS ENTREES: [select on Meal Order Form]
Chicken Salad Sandwich - Autumn Berry Pecan Chicken Salad served on a golden buttery croissant plated with creamy potato salad and carrot soufflé.
Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich - Cajun seasoned pulled pork rubbed with our special spices then slow roasted to perfection and simmered in a Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. Served on a soft Brioche bun with a side of potato salad and coleslaw to complement.
Pot Roast - Slow roasted, melt in your mouth, seasoned pot roast with gravy. Served with carrot souffle, creamy potato salad and a warm roll.
Vegetarian Kale Crunch Salad - Our freshly made gourmet Kale Crunch salad. A vibrant blend of kale, Arcadian blend, shaved Brussel sprouts, Napa cabbage, red cabbage, radicchio, carrots, sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes, and sliced oranges. Served with a side of Raspberry vinaigrette and Ranch dressing. Accompanied with sliced cheddar cheese and crackers.
BOX LUNCH – must be pre-purchased with ticket order at $14.00 per meal. Includes chips, cookie, and choice of drink.
BOX LUNCH OPTION: [select on Meal Order Form]
Thinly sliced Smoked Ham on a Brioche Bun. Hearty portion of sliced ham with sliced American cheese accompanied by lettuce and tomato. Mayonnaise and mustard on the side. Ms. Vickie's Kettle Chips, Chocolate Chip Grandma's cookies and a 24 oz. sport cap bottled water.
Roasted Turkey Breast on a Brioche Bun. Thinly sliced roasted turkey with sliced American cheese accompanied by lettuce and tomato. Mayonnaise and mustard on the side. Ms. Vickie's Kettle Chips, Chocolate Chip Grandma's cookies and a 24 oz. sport cap bottled water.
Autumn Berry Chicken Salad on a buttery Croissant. Tender chunks and shreds of all-natural white meat chicken mixed with mayonnaise and a touch of olive oil, hint of sweet honey, cranberry and pecan pieces, and crunchy fresh celery. Ms. Vickie's kettle chips, Chocolate Chip Grandma's cookies and a 24 oz. sport cap bottled water.
Vegetarian Kale Crunch Wrap on Oven Fired Flatbread. Hummus spread with a vibrant blend of kale spring mix, shaved Brussel sprouts, Napa cabbage, red cabbage, radicchio, sliced carrots, and red onion with creamy Italian dressing on the side. Ms. Vickie's Kettle chips, Chocolate Chip Grandma's cookies and a 24oz sport cap bottled water.
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.
FOR YOUR SAFETY:
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, in accordance with federal, state, and local government guidelines is safely operating all Passenger Scenic Rail Excursions departing from Bryson City.
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.
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.