Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum

The Great Smoky Mountain
Spring Train Excursion

Sunday, May 16th, 2021


On Sunday, May 16th, 2021, the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum will sponsor a beautiful spring 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.

Ticket sales have been closed for this excursion. Please sign up above to receive notifications about more upcoming excursions!

No vouchers or tickets can be transferred from previous trips to the May 16th trip.

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.

The train cars are set up for social distancing, and everyone will be ask to wear mask or shield while on board train for everyone's safety during the pandemic.

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.


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.

These trips are handicap accessible.

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 our Open Air Coach. All cars offer seating in vintage, restored passenger cars. Open Coach Class is great for taking pictures and seeing the beautiful scenery. All passenger cars have restrooms throughout the train.


Boarding in Bryson City
11:00 a.m. to 11:35 a.m.
Train departs Bryson City Depot
12:01 p.m.
Reach top of line
2:00 p.m.
Includes short layover at Nantahala Outdoor Center
De-boarding in Bryson City
4:15 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.


Tickets and pre-purchased meals may be ordered online only!

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



Open Air Coach Class may purchase a box lunch which will be delivered to your car.

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]

Thinly smoked ham on a brioche bun - with sliced American cheese and a side of 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 freshly sliced and on a brioche bun - with sliced American cheese and a side of 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.

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 24 oz. sport cap bottled water.

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.