Sunday, November 30, 2014

All Aboard The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

If you had visited Blue Ridge, Georgia thirty years ago, things sure would have looked different.
Between the areas earliest European settlement in 1790, the founding of the town in 1886, and the boom in domestic tourism in the 1950s, Blue Ridge and surrounding Fannin County had been a sleepy mountain locale, a village subsisting on agriculture, lumber, and mining. The arrival of the railroad around the time of the town's founding had livened up the place a bit, but by the middle of the 20th century, passenger travel had all but petered out, taking the tourists by and large with it.

In 1986, the Georgia Mountain Parkway started bringing cars packed with vacationers looking to escape the heat of the city back into the picturesque hills and valleys of Fannin County, but it was the vision of a group of investors who purchased the old Marietta & North Georgia line and formulated a plan to continue the rail service in the North Georgia mountains. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway has been running excursion trips between Blue Ridge and McCaysville/Copper Hill, Tennessee, since 1998, and has infused new life into the tiny village of Blue Ridge, drawing artists, craftsmen, epicureans, and other creatives who in turn attract visitors and new residents alike.

The rail adventure is a two hour, 26-mile round trip, with a two hour layover for exploring. The train runs from March through December, on weekends until June 13th, and then daily through July. In the peak month of October, trips are daily beginning on October 3rd.

In the winter, the Railway has two unique rides: The Santa Express, and The Night Train to Santa's Pavilion. The Santa Express is a daytime excursion with Christmas carols, holiday characters (including, of course, Santa Claus), and souvenirs for each child. On The Night Train to Santa's Pavilion, Santa visits with the children in each car, and presents them with a BRSR memento and a candy cane. A two-hour layover at Santa's Pavilion in McCaysville provides ample time for photos, shopping, and exploring town.

This year, The Santa Express runs December 5-7, December 12-14, and December 18-24. Tickets are $40 for adults and seniors, $24 for children ages 2-12.

The Night Train to Santa's Pavilion will take place on December 5 and 6, December 13, and December 19 and 20. Tickets are $48 for adults and seniors, $27 for children ages 2-12.

Check our calendar of events to verify dates and times. These train trips regularly sell out, so be sure to buy tickets in advance of your trip! All aboard!