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One of the most historic railroads in Southern Appalachia,
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
Tweetsie railroad essay
Essay by Timothy N. Osment, History M.A., WCU 2008
The Tweetsie eventually fell victim to time. By the 1950s, roadways were reaching into even the most rural and isolated mountain communities. Passenger travel and commercial trade began to shift from train to auto and truck. A devastating flood in 1940 destroyed miles of railway in Western North Carolina. While its tracks were being repaired, the region depended almost exclusively on non-rail transport. The railroad, even after repair, never reclaimed its dominant presence in the region. Progress, the economy, and Nature had exposed the railroad operators to the harsh reality of the future. The ET & WNC completed its final run on October 16, 1950. However, its history does not end there.
The ET & WNC had been powered by a rotating team of thirteen coal-powered engines. One of those, Tweetsie locomotive #12, was purchased by railroad preservationists and shipped to the
That summer a new tourist attraction officially opened in Western North Carolina.
In 1960 Tweetsie acquired a second locomotive, the #190 “Yukon Queen.” Both engines were built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, #12 in 1917 and #190 in 1943. Number 12 weighs in at 93 tons and #190 at 105 tons. All Tweetsie train rides are pulled by one of these two vintage locomotives. Recently, Tweetsie gained additional recognition when it was accepted for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Tweetsie Railroad is open from the beginning of May through the autumn leaf season near the end of October. In addition to the action-packed train ride, visitors can enjoy live Wild West saloon shows, a chair-lift to Miner’s Mountain, amusement rides, a deer park, and panning for gold. A one-price admission includes all the different activities. Also, the railroad operates a shop on site that rebuilds and restores locomotives for museums and other historic railways throughout the nation.
The Tweetsie Railroad is vastly different than its predecessor,
contact information and directions
Tweetsie Railroad is located on Hwy 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock, NC.
300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
Ticket Order Line 1-877-TWEETSIE (1-877-893-3874)
Tweetsie Railroad season pass holders also enjoy a discount at other area attractions like the Biltmore Estate, Chimney Rock Park, Grandfather Mountain, and Mast General Store.
for more information
- Trains, Trestles, and Tunnels: Railroads of the Southern Appalachians, by Lou Harshaw, 1989.
- Tweetsie Country: the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad, by Mallory Ferrell, 1976.
- The Western North Carolina Railroad, 1855-1894, By William Abrams, Jr.
- A History of Railroading in Western North Carolina, By C. Franklin Poole.
- Railroad Crossings of the Blue Ridge: 1879-1909, By Neal Westveer.
- Reminiscences of an Old-Timer, By Ross Smith.