I'm glad that you had such a good time riding the GSMR. My first apartment after I got out of college and went to work was in Cherokee County, NC about 50 yards from the Murphy Branch line in the Tomotla Community. That's between Andrews and Murphy on the portion that is now out-of-service.
Let me suggest some other train ride possibilities that are within a half-day drive of the Johnson City area - I think any of these would appeal to you for different reasons -
1) The Tennessee Valley RR Museum 'Dixieland' excursions are really good. Look for the 'Steam All The Way' or 'Autumn Leaf Specials' where they make an all day trip from Chattanooga down to Summerville, GA and turn the steam locomotive on a turntable in the city park there. These trips usually include a photo run-by.
2) The Tennessee Central Railroad Museum in Nashville runs regular excursions over the remaining portion of the old Tennessee Central Railroad. My favorites are the all-day trips from Nashville to Cookeville, TN using vintage E-8 passenger diesels (as opposed to the freight diesels at GSMR) and streamlined passenger equipment. Book early and go the extra money for a seat in the dome car. It's a ride you will not forget.
3) The Cass Scenic Railroad in Cass, WV is probably the best example of a logging railroad that you will ever find. Switchbacks on the mountains, shay locomotives, awesome scenery. Take the all day trip that goes to the top of Bald Knob or maybe even the one on Fridays that ventures over to the Big Cut.
Finally, as you get older and venture further away, go to Colorado and ride both the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic and the Durango and Silverton. Anyone who loves the ET&WNC will be thrilled by these examples of what they could do with narrow guage tracks. Personally, I prefer the C&T but it's a matter of personal taste and that differs from one person to the next.
Jonathan Pleasant <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Last weekend I took my girlfriend down to Dillsboro to ride on the
old Murphy branch. I hadn't ever been to the Great Smokey Mountains
Railway, but after stepping foot on that train I knew I'd be back.
Since I can do little more than walk the ET&WNC it was nice to finally
ride on the rails. With the exception of Tweetsie, Dollywood, and a
short ride on the chattanooga choo choo, I've not really been a
passenger on a train for any amount of time. The experience was
amazing, and I highly recommend going down there a getting a ticket.
With a little imagination (and sometimes a lot!!) you can almost
believe you are riding into North Carolina on the ET. Its just
unfortunate that they are refurbishing their steam loco and will only
have diesel rides this year.
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