Archive for April, 2010

tweetsie in blowing rock, ncTweetsie Railroad, North Carolina’s first family theme park, opens for the 2010 season on Friday, April 30th. Come join the fun!!

Source: Wikipedia

Opened in 1957, Tweetsie Railroad began as an excursion train ride aboard steam locomotive #12, the only surviving narrow-gauge engine of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC). Built in 1917 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, #12 is a 3 ft  (914 mm) (narrow gauge) 4-6-0 coal-fired locomotive that was used to haul passengers and freight over the ET&WNC’s 66-mile (106.2 km) line running from Johnson City over the Appalachian Mountains to Boone, North Carolina. After the narrow gauge portion of the ET&WNC ceased operations in 1950, the locomotive was purchased by a group of railroad enthusiasts and was taken to Rockingham County, Virginia to operate as the small “Shenandoah Central” tourist line in 1952.

Floodwaters from Hurricane Hazel washed out the Shenandoah Central in 1954, and Locomotive #12 was once again put up for sale. Hollywood actor Gene Autry considered purchasing the locomotive to move to California for use in motion pictures.

Instead, Grover Robbins, an entrepreneur from Blowing Rock, North Carolina, bought the locomotive in 1956 and moved the engine back to its native Blue Ridge Mountains as the centerpiece of a new “Tweetsie Railroad“ tourist attraction. A 3-mile (4.8 km) loop of track was constructed near Boone, North Carolina for the train to run on, and on July 4, 1957, the locomotive made its first public trip over the line.tweetsie railroad

Tweetsie Railroad became a popular tourist attraction, and evolved into one of the nation’s first theme parks. A western town and saloon were built around the depot area. A train robbery and Indian attack show were added to the train ride, playing off the Wild West theme that was very popular at the time on television and movies. The theme was enhanced by regular visits WBTV television personality/singing cowboy Fred Kirby, who hosted a popular children’s show. In 1962, a chairlift and amusement ride area was constructed at the top of the mountain inside the rail loop, and over the decades the park has been expanded with additional rides, attractions, shops, restaurants, and special events.

One of Tweetsie Railroad’s two steam locomotives, 2-8-2 #190, on May 20th, 2007.The Tweetsie Railroad theme park is open from early May through October of each year. One of its most popular annual events is the nighttime “Ghost Train Halloween Festival” in October. In addition to the Wild West train adventure and the amusement rides, Tweetsie Railroad has a variety of live entertainment shows featuring talented performers selected from the immediate area and from the Southeast.

Tweetsie acquired another steam locomotive, USATC S118 Class 2-8-2 #190, the “Yukon Queen” from Alaska’s White Pass and Yukon Route in 1960. Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1943 for the US Army, the engine was part of an 11-locomotive fleet of “MacArthur” 2-8-2s originally purchased for use overseas. During World War II, the locomotives were sent to Alaska for use on the White Pass and Yukon.

In 1961, Grover Robbins built another train ride and tourist attraction called “Rebel Railroad” in the Smoky Mountains near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Renamed “Goldrush Junction” in 1966, it was sold to the Cleveland Browns football team in 1970. In 1976, the attraction was sold again to Jack and Pete Herschend of Branson, Missouri, who redeveloped it as a theme park, “Silver Dollar City Tennessee”. In 1986, country music star Dolly Parton became a partowner with the Herschends, and the theme park was renamed Dollywood to reflect her involvement.

The name “Tweetsie” was given to the original East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad by area residents who became accustomed to the shrill “tweet, tweet” of the train whistles that echoed through the mountains. The nickname stuck with the train and became more identifiable than the railroad’s actual name.


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red springs railroad

This is your chance to ride our Motor Car train on the entire railroad, from Red Springs, NC to Parkton, NC and return, traveling through Shannon and Lumber Bridge, through the flat Eastern North Carolina farming country, and by the many mysterious Carolina Bays along the line. Total mileage will be about 11.5 miles each way on the original Bennettsville Branch of the Atlantic Coast Line (originally part of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad), which hasn’t seen a passenger train in over 60 years!

Our train consists of open-air trailer cars with bench type seating being pulled by class A railroad speeders. A very limited number of speeder tickets may be available that morning for a $10 upcharge. Trips will depart from Red Springs, NC at our yard at Vance and Robert Streets, where there is plenty of parking. We will have one photo stop on each trip as we travel through the swamps and farmland enroute to Parkton.

We will enjoy a 45-minute layover in Parkton to visit our Parkton ACL depot/museum, purchase a drink and snack, and watch some CSX mainline freight train action before we return to Red Springs. Fares are $15.00 per adult and children ages 5-12 are $10.00 each.

This trip is not recommended for children younger than five due to our open cars. An All-Day pass for all three trips is $40.00 for the day. Due to the historic nature of our equipment, it will be difficult to host handicapped passengers. Restrooms and Drinks and Snacks are available in Red Springs, Lumber Bridge and Parkton.

Three Trips are Available

First trip departs Red Springs at 8:30 am and returns at 11:45 am

Second trip departs Red Springs at 12 noon and returns at 3:15 pm

Third trip departs Red Springs at 3:30 pm and returns at 6:45 pm.

You should arrive at our boarding site 30 minutes before your trip to allow ample time for parking, getting tickets, and boarding.

Order Tickets Today, Capacity is Extremely Limited!!!

Rain Date will be Sunday, April 25

For further information or to make reservations, please contact Carey Boney at 910-285-7489 between the hours of 6 pm and 9 pm daily, or via email at Reservations will be held for one week to allow time to mail checks or money orders to: Red Springs and Northern Railroad, c/o Carey Boney, 1605 Powers Road, Wallace, NC 28466.

Tickets may be available on the day of the trips, if not previously sold out. All reserved tickets will be available in Red Springs one hour before boarding. No tickets will be mailed out. A list of hotels is available upon request. The railroad reserves the right to cancel, reschedule trains and operating days or to substitute equipment, or adjust the trip length as required or necessary.

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great smoky mountains railroad

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is excited to introduce its All-Inclusive First Class Seating with dining and exclusive souvenirs. First Class passengers ride in comfort and style in 1940’s era bar, lounge and dining cars that feature seating at well-appointed tables and lounge/restaurant style chairs. First Class passengers receive a delicious lunch served by the car’s private attendant, a souvenir tumbler with unlimited fountain sodas and an embroidered tote bag gift from GSMR. 

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s First Class Cars include the Dixie Flyer, Silver Meteor, Champion and MacNeill. These unique cars have colorful stories and heritage that date back to the 1940’s. Great care and attention have been taken to restore and preserve this history. The MacNeill was built as the Pohatan Arrow for the Norfolk & Western Railway (present day Norfolk-Southern) to run on their Premier Passenger Line, and the Dixie Flyer Dining Car was built in 1949 as a bar and lounge for the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Silver Meteor and Champion cars were built in 1940 for the Seaboard Airline Railway, with the Silver Meteor serving as a dinner car and the Champion as a lightweight lounge car.  These First Class Cars have been used in filming movies such as My Fellow Americans and Forces of Nature. 

First Class Passengers may choose one of several hearty lunch options including a 100% Black Angus Steakburger, Slow Cooked Southern BBQ sandwich, Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich and a Garden Salad. Sandwiches are served on a toasted sourdough bun with lettuce, tomato and onions, plus potato wedges and dessert. Cocktail and bar service is available for purchase, and First Class cars are limited to those ages 21 and over. 

Family First Class is available in the summer months of June, July and August. Adults and children can ride and dine First Class! Adults receive the same First Class amenities, and children receive a tasty kid’s meal, souvenir tumbler and special amenity. 

Join the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad for a First Class journey you’ll always remember. For more information please call 800-872-4681 or visit us online at

Admission to the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum is included with ticket purchase. Without tickets, admission to the museum is $9 for adults and $5 for children.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is a 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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