Join Railroad Heritage Weekend at Tweestie for Fun, History and a Special Ride Aug. 29-30

Published Friday, August 14, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Calling all train and history enthusiasts! Tweetsie Railroad is known by generations of families for its Wild West adventure. What many people may be surprised to learn is that North Carolina’s first theme park has a long and rich history, which it celebrates each year with Railroad Heritage Weekend.

Highlights of this year’s event, which will take place Aug. 29-30, 2015, include tours of the Tweetsie Railroad Train Shop and a special ride on Tweetsie’s historic steam locomotives.Vintage_Tweetsie_Railroad_Engine_No._12

The highlight of Railroad Heritage Weekend for many railfans will be when the original locomotive No. 12 pulls the 1870¹s vintage coach car on non-stop trips around the mountain, recreating the historic trains of the narrow-gauge East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. This once-a-year trip will run Saturday and Sunday, while the No. 190 locomotive pulls a separate train, taking riders on Tweetsie’s famous Wild West adventure. On Sunday morning, Tweetsie will showcase a doubleheader, the only day of the year when locomotives No. 12 and No. 190 work together to pull the train on the Wild West train ride.

Guests will also have the opportunity to tour the Tweetsie Railroad Train Shop. While few guests ever visit the shop, it serves a vital function for the park by keeping Tweetsie’s pair of vintage locomotives operational and in pristine condition. As one of the only shops of its kinds left in existence, it also preserves a special art, keeping alive the romance of steam-powered locomotives. The shop was first opened by engineer Frank Coffey, who helped deliver Tweetsie’s No. 12 engine to its current Blowing Rock home in 1957. Coffey passed away in 1999 but left his legacy in the form of steam locomotive mechanics who have passed down the craft from previous generations.

Other Railroad Heritage Weekend Activities will include historic documentaries, a memorabilia display and photo sessions, as well as performances by Cherokee dancers and crafts from the Tsalagi Touring Program. The Cherokee performances will take place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Tweetsie Pavilion.

Tweetsie’s history dates back well before 1957, when the theme park opened to the public. The original “Tweetsie” was the nickname of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina (ET&WNC) Railroad, which began service in 1881 from Johnson City, Tennessee to Cranberry, North Carolina. The railroad eventually expanded the line to Boone in 1919, and ran until a flood destroyed most of the tracks in 1940. By 1950, the remaining narrow-gauge portion of the line was abandoned. The railroad gained its familiar nickname, “Tweetsie,” from the sound of the whistles as they echoed off the mountains. The railroad’s sole surviving steam locomotive, engine No. 12, was purchased by Tweetsie Railroad in 1956, and North Carolina¹s first theme park opened on July 4, 1957. Engine No. 190 the “Yukon Queen” joined No. 12 in 1960 after being purchased from the White Pass and Yukon Railway in Alaska, where it had served the US Army’s 770th Railway Operating Battalion during WWII.

All Railroad Heritage Weekend activities are included in Tweetsie¹s regular daily admission price with one exception: a $5 per passenger donation will be required to ride the special 1870’s vintage coach car train. All donations will go towards supporting the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad restoration projects.

Tweetsie Railroad is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays August 17 through November 1, including Labor Day Monday. The 2015 season ends Sunday, November 1. The parks Wild West themed hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Daily admission to Tweetsie Railroad is $41 for adults and $27 for children ages 3 through 12. Children 2 and under are admitted free. The Ghost Train® Halloween Festival will take place Friday and Saturday nights September 25 through October 31 from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., when admission is $34 for adults and children. Tickets and Golden Rail Season Passes are available at Tweetsie.com.

Tweetsie Railroad is located on U.S. Highway 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina. For more information about the 2015 season at Tweetsie Railroad, visit Tweetsie.com or call 877.TWEETSIE (877.893.3874). Find Tweetsie on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Tweetsie and Twitter and Instagram, @TweetsieRR.

 

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