A vintage train will ride the rails through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia October 29 & 30 on its Appalachian Region tour. People from all over will have a chance to see and even ride this historic train. Our grand parents have ridden many of these restored passenger cars during the 1950’s and 60’s. This will be a train that the hole family will want to come out to ride and see.
The North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society will host two day trip excursions to Roanoke, Va. and Toccoa, Ga. this fall. These trips allow passengers great views of the fall colors combined with the romance of riding the rails to a great destination. If you want to see the Appalachian Mountains at their peak of beauty, these trips are for you.
Now in their fifth year, the Virginia Autumn Special will travel to Roanoke, Va. Oct 29. The Georgia Autumn Special features a day trip to Toccoa, Ga. Oct. 30. While Roanoke was a destination for last year’s excursions, Toccoa is a new location and an exciting opportunity for those who take the trips each year.
Saturday’s Virginia Autumn Special departs from the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer at 7 a.m. with additional passenger pick-up at the Greensboro Amtrak Station at 8 a.m.
The train will travel through the northern portion of the North Carolina Piedmont, including the cities of High Point and Reidsville, before crossing into Virginia. The western part of central Virginia offers spectacular views of the fall foliage, crossing the Dan and Roanoke Rivers. Moving onto the old Virginian Railway line, the train will pass through the towns of Huddleston, Moneda and Goodview, traveling through four tunnels. Passengers will also enjoy traveling over trestles that provide views of the tributaries into Smith Mountain Lake.
Arriving in Roanoke, the “Star City of the South,” at noon, the train will pass by the historic Roanoke Shops, where Norfolk Southern built their classic steam engines. Passengers will debark at the restored Norfolk & Western Passenger station, home to the O. Winston Link Museum. Passengers can enjoy downtown Roanoke or visit the museum, home to Link’s beautiful photography of 1950s-era steam locomotives. Advance tickets to the museum are available to excursion passengers at the discounted group rate of $4 per person.
Departing at 2:45 p.m., the Virginia Autumn Special will return to Greensboro at 6:30 p.m. and Spencer at 8 p.m.
Sunday, the Georgia Autumn Special will also depart from the N.C. Transportation Museum at 7:00 am with additional stop/pickup at the Spartanburg, SC Amtrak station at 9:00 am and will traverse what was once Southern Railway’s main line, running from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, Ga. Passengers will enjoy the gala fall colors of Carolinas’ rolling foothills, before crossing the 100-foot Seneca River trestle spanning Lake Hartwell to arrive at Toccoa.
Nestled into the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the historic town will be bustling with activity during the 29th annual Harvest Festival. Passengers will have approximately three hours to enjoy the festival, which features handmade, handcrafted and home-grown items from more than 200 vendors, as well as delicious regional foods, great entertainment on two stages, children and youth activities, buggy rides and much more.
Toccoa Falls, named for the Cherokee word “Toccoah” meaning beautiful, is a must see.Located on the campus of Toccoa College, the 186-foot falls are 26 feet taller than Niagara Falls. Shuttle buses will be making a continuous loop between downtown Toccoa and Toccoa Falls.
Departing Toccoa at 3 p.m., the Georgia Autumn Special will return to Spartanburg, SC at 5:45 pm and back to Spencer, NC at 8 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now.
Tourist Class seating features the convenience and comforts of modern rail travel. Each car has a center aisle with two adjustable seats and a wide window on each side. The seating area provides convenient access to the souvenir and café cars. Tourist Class tickets are $145 each.
All rail cars feature air conditioning, heat and rest rooms.
For those wishing to eat on the train to provide more time for sightseeing, an optional Gourmet Boxed Lunch will be offered. Delivered to your seat, the $15 meal will be served in a souvenir lunch tote, including chicken salad on a croissant, pasta salad, fresh fruit, homemade pound cake and a drink. This option is only available in advance and can be purchased with your ticket.
Tickets will be available online now. Simply log on to www.nctrans.org and click the available links or call 704-636-2889.
The N.C. Transportation Museum, located in historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway repair facility is located just five minutes off I-85 at Exit 79 in Spencer, N.C., and about an hour from Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston-Salem.
The North Carolina Transportation Museum and the Watauga Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society are both non profit organizations.