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.  

   

 


Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Nov. 21-26

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Nov. 21-26: Christopher Sterling Holcombe, 38, of 1606 Bussell Place, Fort Oglethorpe was arrested November 20 on charges of possession of firearm at public gathering and possession of firearm by convicted felon.   Atlanta Shannice Dixon, 22, of 2113 Union Avenue, Fort Oglethorpe was arrested November 21 on charges of ... (click for more)

Crime Stoppers: Murder Of James Richard Harris

Crime Stoppers and the Walker County Sheriff’s Office are seeking information on the homicide of James Richard Harris.   On Dec. 22, 1994, at approximately 7:41 a.m., the Walker County Sheriff’s Office responded to 1610 Boss Road in Chickamauga for a body in the driveway. The body was identified as that of 54-year-old James Richard Harris who resided at that address and ... (click for more)

Lawlessness At Heritage Park

As a frequent visitor at Heritage Park in East Brainerd, I must say that the situation is becoming slightly out of control.  To start, parking is atrocious.  The unpaved lot contains nothing but loose gravel which has naturally given way to divots in the ground assuring you a few bumps.  Why isn't this area smoothed out?  It's not worth parking there anyways ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why I Am Thankful 2014

Over 40 years ago I was a young sports writer when I came up with the notion of setting daily things aside, just for one day, and writing about why “I Am Thankful.” Every Thanksgiving I come up with my list and it is as much about me as it is about my gratitude for all things great and small. I can’t imagine approaching this day in any other way. Here we go … I AM THANKFUL for ... (click for more)

Alcoa, A Prep Football Gold Standard, Up Next For Irish

Notre Dame almost had a crack at powerful Alcoa in the 2013 TSSAA football playoff semifinal round. But, in the quarterfinals, Alcoa beat Christian Academy of Knoxville, 42-14, but the Fighting Irish dropped a 19-10 decision to Upperman, which was crushed, 75-18, a week later by the Tornadoes. Alcoa clipped Christ Presbyterian Academy, 25-7, in the state championship game. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Women Shock No.4 Tennessee, 67-63

Before the season started some people across the country called Chattanooga women’s basketball coach Jim Foster crazy for scheduling three top 10 teams – Notre Dame (national runner-up) Stanford and Tennessee - before Christmas. After Wednesday night’s UTC shocking 67-63 home win against No.4 Tennessee before 4,160, those same folks might believe coach Foster is crazy like ... (click for more)