Archive for October, 2009


Posted by Jennifer Wig
October 27, 2009

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Several years ago, cities and towns in the foothills and mountains of western North Carolina were anxiously awaiting the return of passenger rail service.

In March 2001, the N.C. Department of Transportation adopted a phased plan to extend passenger rail service to Asheville and western North Carolina. Travelers have often listed Asheville as the No. 1 most requested destination in the United States that does not have Amtrak service. The plan called for passenger trains to run between Salisbury and Asheville with stops in Statesville, Hickory, Valdese, Morganton, Marion, Old Fort and Black Mountain.

The plan also included the renovating or building of train stations that would also have other community uses. Both Marion and Old Fort had their depots extensively renovated and these buildings have since become community centers for special events.

However, state budget constraints prompted the state DOT to delay the return of passenger rail service to the mountains. In the meantime, the department will continue to work with communities on stations and rail safety improvements, according to the N.C. Rail Division’s Web site.


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Little Red Caboose

This is another children’s book about trains that I grew up with. It’s still as popular today as it was 30 years ago.

The story helps improve self-worth as the little red caboose is sad about never getting waves from people like the big steam engine or other cars.

One day as the train starts it’s way up a tall mountain, the train starts to slip and the little red caboose throws on the brakes and works hard to keep the train from sliding down the mountain or derailing.

It manages to hold on long enough for 2 steam engines to come to the rescue and push the train up and over the mountain. So, the little red caboose sves the day and ends up becoming the most p0pular part of the train.

Probably the best lesson here is that you’re never too small to make a difference in life.

Children’s books about trains are magical because of the stories and images that manage to stay in our heads for decades. It’s hard to believe this book was first published in 1952, but I remember loving it as a child…and my 7-year old has loved it since he was born.


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Video of Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg, the largest model railway in the world and one of the most successful permanent exhibitions in Germany.


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TLS Sept 5 2009 009NC-Based “Triad Live Steamers” have officially opened their new location in Harrisburg, NC and have a full schedule of fun events planned. Their “Rail Kids” program gives children the opportunity to interact more closely with the locomotives.

Click HERE to learn more about “Rail Kids!”

Triad Live Steamers Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the lore and history of railroading with large scale model trains. The railroad and its equipment is for both children and adults alike to enjoy and ride on. You do not have to own any equipment in order to come and enjoy the club or to join. An interest in learning more about our hobby is all that is required.

TLS Sept 5 2009 005For more information, visit:!

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It started as a passing fancy of a sort for one South Durhamite — one which came to take up a bit more space in his garage with each passing year: a collection of miniatures that form ghastly and ghoulish villages.

And it drew children from around the neighborhood for the past six years, an ever-larger porcelain portfolio that crowded out cars and lawn-mowers to make space for October’s fun frights.

Now, this spooky hobby has finally outgrown “Wolfman” Tim Gabriel’s home, and found a home this Halloween season at the Museum of Life & Science. Gabriel’s “Halloween Village” opened at the North Durham family favorite today and will be on display until November 1, perched over near the space exhibits in the museum.

Gabriel’s worked throughout the year to find a new home for his exhibition, whose very history is an interesting sidelight for a man who fills his days working in the financial department for IBM down at the Park.

“I’ve always loved Halloween, and I started building a village in my garage, so that the children could enjoy it in my neighborhood,” Gabriel told BCR while he and a crew of family and friends toiled away to set up the village this weekend.

As the display grew — to take up more than 200 sq. ft. in his garage of animated and illuminated Halloween fun — he wanted to find a bigger, better seasonal home for the show.


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Fairgoers and train enthusiasts won’t want to miss the working model train display that will be a new addition to the Flower and Garden Show at this year’s State Fair.

The display is the creation of the N.C. Garden Railroad Society, which has turned a roughly 10-foot-by-40-foot plot of land into a miniature village setting complete with a church, a train depot, a barn, a trestle bridge and other buildings.

The plan is to run two trains during the Fair around the roughly 75 feet of train tracks.

A variety of plants are incorporated into the scene to give the appearance of trees and a natural landscape. Brightly colored ornamental pepper plants with yellow, orange and red fruit give the illusion of trees heavy with fall leaves near the tracks by the church.

Rose bushes are larger “trees” in the setting, joined by lamb’s ears plants, ajuga, a wide variety of sedems, herbs and lime-green ground covers to provide texture and detail to the landscape.

The group included a few whimsical items to complete the scene: an outhouse with a working light and some wallpaper, a broken-down truck and even a dog. People, farm animals, an assortment of cars and a working railroad crossing are also part of the display.

Go to the NCGRRS Web site  to see more photos that show how the train display came together.


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The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Seasonal Service to the North Pole!

Bryson City, NC – In 1985, Chris Van Allsburg wrote The Polar Express, a story of a magical train ride on Christmas Eve. The train takes a young boy to the North Pole to receive a special gift from Santa Claus. “The Polar Express,” published by Houghton Mifflin Company, has become a contemporary holiday classic, with over 6 million copies sold worldwide. In 2004 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. reunited the Academy Award-winning team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis in an inspiring animated version. That same year GSMR began operating The Polar Express based on the storybook version. Over 40,000 passengers rode The Polar Express with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in 2008.
The 1 ¼ hour round-trip excursion comes to life as the train departs the Bryson City depot for a journey through the quiet wilderness for a special visit at the North Pole. Guests on board will enjoy warm cocoa and a treat while listening and reading along with the magical story. Children’s faces show the magic of the season when the train arrives at the “North Pole” to find Santa Claus waiting. Santa will board The Polar Express, greeting each child and presenting them with a special gift as in the story, their own silver sleigh bell. Christmas carols will be sung as they return back to the Bryson City Depot. 

The Polar Express 2009 schedule is November 6, 8, 12, 13, 15, & 19 departs at 6:30pm. November 7, 14, 22, 24, 25, & 29 departs at 5:00pm & 6:30pm. November 20, 21, 27, & 28 departs at 5:00pm, 6:30pm, & 8:00pm. December 2, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, & 17 departs at 5:00pm & 6:30pm. December 3, 4, 10, & 11 departs at 11:00am, 5:00pm, 6:30pm, & 8:00pm. December 5, 12, & 19 departs at 2:00pm, 3:30pm, 5:00pm, 6:30pm, & 8:00pm. December 18, 20, 21, 22, & 23 departs 5:00pm, 6:30pm, & 8:00pm.

Ticket prices are $38.00 for adults and $26.00 for children ages 2-12. Children under two years old ride complimentary. For more information and reservations please call 800-872-4681 or visit us online at

First Class seating upgrades are available. Each guest will receive a deluxe serving of hot cocoa in a souvenir Polar Express mug, and enjoy short breads and other treats in addition to the standard offerings. Ticket prices for First Class are $53.00 for adults and $36.00 for children. Children under two years old are $10.00.

Smoky Mountain Trains Museum admission is included with all train excursion tickets. Without train excursion admission is $9.00 for Adults and $5.00 for Children.

About the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad:
With 53 miles of track, 2 tunnels and 25 bridges, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad offers a variety of excursions that explore the amazing landscape of western North Carolina. With the romance and mystique of an era gone by, guests on-board the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will enjoy scenic train journeys across fertile valleys and through river gorges in a spectacular region near The Great Smoky Mountains. Proud member of the American Heritage Railways family. Visit our sister railroads in southwest Colorado at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and in east Texas at the Texas State Railroad.


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