Chattanooga Railroad Series: Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad

Thursday, August 28, 2014 - by John Wilson

The tracks along the scenic Toccoa River that runs between CopperhHill/McCaysville and Blue Ridge were idle for two decades and in danger of being taken up.

But a group of dedicated train enthusiasts and volunteers set about to bring the passenger train back to the mountains, and they have succeeded in a big way.

The train, with two locomotives and 11 passenger cars, runs with diesel engines at both ends - so there is no need for a turntable.

The Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad is gaining additional passengers every year, and it has been a boon to the communities on either end of the line.

Tim Griffin, operations manager, says, "We passed 70,000 last year, and will top that this year."

The line is a division of the Georgia Northeast short line railroad, which also has freight operations along the track that goes from Copperhill on to Ellijay and eventually to Marietta, Ga., where it reaches the old Western and Atlantic main line.

One study projected passenger service from Canton to Marietta along the Georgia Northeast, though the cost for bolstering the track and building new stations would be high.

The line has had several names since it was chartered in 1854 as the Ellijay Railroad. It was later called the Marietta, Canton and Ellijay Railroad, then the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad.

On a recent Saturday, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad reached Copper Hill/McCaysville at the same time as the Tennessee Valley Railroad's excursion from Etowah, Tn., pulled in. That brought a lot of lunch traffic to local restaurants, including a new one with a view of the spot where the Toccoa becomes the Ocoee River.

The river marks the state line between Copperhill, Tn., and McCaysville, Ga.

Nearby are the ruins of copper mines that once were a major business for the railroad. Spur lines still run into the mining center, and there is a Copperhill yard with numerous rail cars on side tracks.

The Copperhill/McCaysville depot did not survive. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad has built a covered platform for passengers to disembark. There is a two-hour layover at Copperhill/McCaysville after the hour-long trip along the 26 miles of the winding river. Then it is back to Blue Ridge.

However, Blue Ridge still has its historic 1905 train station, which is currently being refurbished.

The popular passenger train, along with a four-lane highway, has revived the pretty mountain town. There are numerous restaurants and shops in its reclaimed historic buildings.

Just off the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad's route is the old rail line that once ran to Murphy, N.C.

Though most of the track was pulled up along this route from Blue Ridge, one depot survives. The depot at Mineral Bluff, five miles northeast of Blue Ridge, is one of the most charming in the South. It was built in 1887 and refurbished in 2007.  

   

 


Derrick Richardson Says He Was Wrongly Convicted Of Murder 24 Years Ago

Derrick Richardson, 45, says he was wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder in 1992. He testified in Judge Barry Steelman’s courtroom at a post-conviction hearing on Monday. Police reports from Dec. 8, 1991, describe the death of Louie F. Dwight, 39, who was found in his truck at 1903 Roanoke Ave. They said he had suffered three gunshot wounds to his legs. He was transported ... (click for more)

Woman Stabbed Twice During Altercation With Another Woman On Woodside Street

A woman was stabbed twice in an altercation with another woman outside a house on Woodside Street on Tuesday afternoon. The Chattanooga Police Department was notified by a local hospital that a female had arrived suffering from stab wounds to the neck and shoulder. The injuries are reported to be non-life threatening.  The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. Investigators ... (click for more)

Expand Broadband Internet, Not The Size Of Government

I’d like to respond to two letters in your July 13 edition that praised Rep. Mike Carter’s efforts to expand statewide broadband access. Rep. Carter wants more government involvement in the broadband sector, including an expansion of taxpayer-funded, municipal broadband networks.  Rep. Carter’s supporters argued he’s standing up for consumers against huge telecommunications ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Keep Mike Carter’s Genius

Mike Carter, who has just been chosen as the “Best Overall” member of the Tennessee Legislature by a group known as the Tennessee Forum and “Legislator of the Year” by Citizens for Home Rule, is truly both. A lawyer and then a Sessions Court judge for 8 ½ years, he is overwhelmingly favored to win a third term during next Thursday’s election and rightly so. While it is laudable ... (click for more)

Dunbar Promoted To Head Wrestling Job At Ooltewah

J.D. Dunbar had been promoted to head wrestling coach at Ooltewah High School. Dunbar, an assistant with the Owls’ mat program since 2012, becomes a head coach for the first time at the high school level. He replaces Bryant Blackmon, who recently resigned. The 36-year-old Dunbar is also the school’s strength and conditioning coach and assistant head football coach on ... (click for more)

Another Big Week For Chattanooga Football Club

More than 10,000 fans gathered at Finley Stadium last Saturday to see a 5-3 penalty kick win over Miami United.   CFC keeper Gregga Hartley made a save and scored the winning penalty kick, helping his team to advance to the national semifinals on Saturday.  They will host Sonoma County Sol at 7:30 in the comfy confines of "Fort Finley"  Chattanooga is the top ... (click for more)