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.  

   

 


Red Bank Commission Agenda For Tuesday

Here is the Red Bank Commission for Tuesday at 7 p.m.: I. Call to Order – Mayor John Roberts II. Roll Call – City Manager ___ Mayor Roberts, ___ Vice-Mayor Floy Pierce, ___ Commissioner Causer, ___ Commissioner Eddie Pierce III. Invocation – IV. Pledge of Allegiance – V. Consideration of the Minutes for approval or correction: A. November 15, 2016 ... (click for more)

Walker County Arrest Report For Nov. 28-Dec. 4

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Nov. 28-Dec. 4: JORDAN        LORIE KAY   W/F     31        Officer WOOTEN      POSSESSION MARIJUANA (LESS OZ) GROSS           DANIEL         ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Couldn't Manage Public Education

I have been reading the buzz about Signal Mountain and other small municipalities considering a move to form their own school district within their municipal boundaries.  It is quite the comedy hour considering the notion that small cities that for decades could not even manage small sewer systems or 911 districts, are somehow going to do a better job with public education ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: School Board Can’t Wait

It took the Hamilton County School board nine months before the group hired a search firm to find a new superintendent. But you mark my words – the Department of Education will undoubtedly implode if our leaders wait another nine months simply hoping for some type of mystical salvation. In the last week Signal Mountain leaders have all but given notice they will form their own district ... (click for more)

It's Tennessee Vs. Nebraska In The Music City Bowl

 Tennessee has accepted an invitation to play the Nebraska in the Music City Bowl on    Dec. 30   at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. Tickets for the Music City Bowl will be available for purchase in the coming days via AllVols.com. "Our entire program is excited about representing the University of Tennessee at the Music City Bowl," Vols ... (click for more)

UTC Women's Hoops: Mocs Host Stetson Tonight

Coming off an 80-60 road win against UT-Martin Saturday, the UTC women's basketball team hosts Stetson tonight at McKenzie Arena at 6:30 p.m. Stetson (8-1) has won four in a row and is led by guard Biantt Saunders is six points  away from breaking the Hatters all-time scoring record currently held by Sasha Sims, who scored 1,617 points from 2010-14. In the UT-Martin ... (click for more)