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Great Smoky Mountians Railroad


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Not a directly Urban Planet related issue, but I figure there are a number of people who like trains here so I'll pass it on anyway.

See the article from the Citizen-Times.

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, which runs excursion trains and pulls small amounts of freight on the old Southern Railway's Murphy Branch between Dillsboro and Murphy, NC, is expanding their operations. They're going to build a new, on-site maintenence facility, complete with turntable and roundhouse, in Bryson City.

Anyone who has visited Bryson City before knows that the railroad drives the downtown economy. Good news for them. At the right time of year, these trains are long - 15 passenger coaches is not unheard of in late October - and they run full. It's a profitable passenger operation, and have recently recieved a loan from the FRA to use on capital projects (bridge repairs, the new maintenence facility, etc.)

Maybe the state should bill the Amtrak service as a tourist operation, so people will pay more, ridership will go through the roof, and it will turn a profit. Of course GSMR conveniently avoids much of the expense associated with maintaining a railroad by limiting their trains to 25mph, and the scenery along the Tuckaseegee and Nantahala rivers is incredible. But hey! It's a thought.

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I've rode the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad twice, though it was back in the early 90s when it had first been re-chartered as a tourist line.

I understand that since it was acquired by American Heritage Railways a few years ago it has improved greatly with refurbished coaches and rolling stock, plus they seem to be pouring a lot of money into other general improvements as well. (I really like AHR's other railroad, the Durango and Silverton, out it Colorado)

However, I'm still waiting for them to get steam locomotive #722 rolling again before I return. :thumbsup:

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