|From Blue Ridge Scenic Railway|
There’s something in our collective unconscious that thinks trains are romantic. As a person who has actually travelled by train, I understand this in part, but I know it’s mostly being stuck in a cramped box for hours. But still even I tend to romanticize the railroads. Now there are some great things about it, the slow passage of time, views of the American countryside, and the lullaby of rail on steel. A great way to get the best of the rail without the worst of the rail resides about an hour and 45 minutes north of us in Blue Ridge, Georgia at the appropriately named Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Leaving the city of Blue Ridge every day except most Tuesdays and Wednesdays (Schedule) is a seven or eight car train that traverses the Murphy Connector between Blue Ridge and McCaysville, Tennessee. The trip is 13 miles one way with an hour break in McCaysville. There are normally two or three open air cars and two or three closed cars so you can escape or enjoy the weather. The cars themselves are restored historic railcars from times past and places as far away as New York City. The trip takes about four hours in total. There are restrooms and a snack car on the train if either should become necessary.
The Summer cost is a little on the high side at $32 (fares) with discounted pricing for Seniors and children 12 and under. But compared to buses, trains, and planes, it’s not that out of line. And what you’re paying for is the experience. You get to rush behind peoples homes and along the serene Toccoa River. Along the way, people run out to wave at the passing trains, you get to see an ancient Indian fish trap, and the occasional encounter with wildlife. This must be a fascinating way to see the fall colors turn, if that’s your sort of thing.
The only negative about the trip is the stop in McCaysville. Sure it’s a cute little country town, and it has this charming blue stripe running through it separating Georgia from Tennessee and the town of McCaysville from Copperhill. But If you’re thinking of dinner, the food is a bit regrettable. We ate at the Nifty Fifties Diner, which had a beautiful view of the river and some nice bluegrass music, but the food was reminiscent of the kind of stuff you’d get at your average bowling alley, but kids may enjoy it. Based on my discussions with fellow travellers, I think your best bets would be the BBQ joint across from the train station (not next to it) or the Mexican eatery.
I write this because I recently received an email about discounts to the rail road for weekday excursions and for reserving the Christmas ride with Santa Claus, if you book before August 31st. The code for the Santa excursion is SUMSANTA10 and the weekday trips is SUM10WEEKDAY, both being good for 10% off (2010 codes). Even at full price, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is an enjoyable was to relive the glory days of American Trains without the commitment or hassle of spending too much time stuck in a metal box.