The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum is pleased to announce its Spring 2017 Rail Excursion through the scenic Hiwassee River Gorge in East Tennessee. Excursion date is set for Saturday, April 1, 2017. The excursion offers an opportunity to ride the rails through one of the most beautiful river gorges in the United States as the railroad tracks travel along the Hiwassee River. The rail trip will take a 50-mile, 3-1/2 hour round trip rail excursion along this beautiful river to the famous “Hiwassee Loop”.
The special attraction of the trip is traveling through the Narrows, where the Hiwassee River flows through rock channels, and the Bald Mountain Loop. The track actually passes over itself on a high trestle during a corkscrew climb up the mountain near Farner, TN. Tracks along this route parallel the river for most of its length, providing views of the lower gorge.
This will be a unique opportunity to ride on this historic railroad. The railroad was originally built to haul ore from the copper basin in Copper Hill, 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.
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.
Passengers will be asked to move from one side of the aisle to the other before the return trip to ensure that every passenger will be able to view all the scenery in secluded areas along the line.
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
Deluxe Coach Seating cost is $92.00 per adult and $82.00 per child (ages 2-12), Observation Lounge seating cost is $130 per adult and $120.00 per child (ages 2-12), and Dome seating cost is $160.00 per adult $150.00 per child (2-12) Ticket includes train ride and motor coach to and from Etowah, TN. Meals are not included. To order tickets, send a check or money order (sorry, cash or credit cards not accepted) along with the number of tickets you’re purchasing to Spring 2017 Rail Excursion, Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum, P. O. Box 432, Johnson City, TN 37605-0432. A printable order form is available ON LINE at www.wataugavalleynrhs.org. Please be sure to tell us whether you’re boarding the motor coach in Johnson City, Greeneville, Morristown or Knoxville. For questions about the trip e-mail [email protected] or phone our ticket office at (423) 753-5797 between the hours of 9am and 4pm Monday – Saturday, closed Sunday.