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.  

   

 


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ANDREWS, WINDA FAYE 4902 GOLFVIEW DR CHATTANOOGA, 37411 55 Chattanooga FAILURE TO APPEAR BENN, MARCUS ANTAWAN 3216 6TH AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37407 29 Chattanooga SIMPLE ASSAULT CONTRABAND IN PENAL INSTITUTIONS BLAIS, CANE CHRISTIAN 2824 SYDNEY STREET JACKSONVILLE, 32206 21 Hamilton ... (click for more)

Former Meigs County Official Connie Allen Indicted On Theft Charge

An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of a former Meigs County interim finance director on theft charges. At the request of 9 th  District Attorney General Russell Johnson, TBI special agents began investigating Connie Allen on Nov. 24, 2014. TBI agents worked in conjunction with the Tennessee Comptroller ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mom’s Parting Instructions

My mother, Helen Exum, went to be with the Lord in late August of last year and, in the way folks do, I was going through some of her files last week when I ran across an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a story and written in her hand were the words, “This is a wonderful story for you to tell!” Not being one to disobey my mother and not about to waylay the wishes of the ... (click for more)

Grissom Eases Past Central To Reach Pounder Classic Finals

After recording three straight blowout wins in the Pounder Classic, Grissom was challenged Saturday afternoon by host Central at Cobble Field at Gene Lively Stadium. The outcome, however, was the same. Grissom, out of Huntsville, Ala., got a two-run homer from Palmer Ford in a three-run first inning, freshman left-hander Wesley Widner continued his solid pitching and the ... (click for more)

Schupp, Carpenter Overall Winners In 65 Roses 5K

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – The younger generation took charge on Saturday morning in the 13 th annual 65 Roses 5K road race. A pair of 18-year-old college freshmen were the overall winners as Paul Schupp and Amy Carpenter claimed those titles with times of 16:34 and 19:18, respectively. The 3.1-mile race started and finished on the campus of Lee University.   It was a mostly-flat ... (click for more)