It’s almost time for the most special Railroad Heritage Weekend yet at Tweetsie Railroad. On August 26-27, 2017, history buffs and train enthusiasts will come together for a weekend-long event to celebrate the rich history of Tweetsie Railroad and the 100th birthday of locomotive No.12, fondly known as “Tweetsie.”
Throughout the weekend, locomotive No. 12 will pull an 1870’s vintage coach car on non-stop trips around the mountain to recreate historic trains from the narrow-gauge East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. Meanwhile, the No. 190 locomotive will pull a separate train on a Wild West adventure. Sunday morning is the only day each year when Tweetsie Railroad has a doubleheader as locomotives No. 12 and No. 190 combine to pull the train. Railroad Heritage Weekend will also include special exhibits, demonstrations, and tours of the park¹s unique on-site locomotive repair shop.
Tweetsie Railroad’s rich history begins in 1866 when the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC) was created. This line provided service from Johnson City, Tennessee, to the iron mines at Cranberry, North Carolina. The tracks were later extended to Boone, North Carolina, and the ET&WNC added passenger service and logging hauls. Most of the tracks to Boone were destroyed by a flood in 1940, but the railroad¹s only surviving steam locomotive, Engine No. 12, was purchased by Tweetsie Railroad in 1956. Just one year later on July 4, 1957, North Carolina¹s first theme park opened. Engine No. 12 was built 100 years ago, in 1917, and is now part of the National Historic Register.
Tweetsie Railroad purchased its second locomotive in 1960 from Alaska¹s White Pass and Yukon Railway. Engine No. 190 was rebuilt and began operating at the theme park along with No. 12. The two coal-fired steam locomotives now take thousands of Tweetsie Railroad visitors on a Wild West adventure each season.
During Railroad Heritage Weekend, visitors will have the rare opportunity to visit the original Tweetsie Railroad Locomotive Shop, where Engines No. 12 and No. 190 are carefully maintained for daily use. The Shop has become one of the few places in the country that restores, rebuilds and creates impossible-to-find parts for steam-powered locomotives. There is even a giant space large enough to house an entire engine and tender, where the meticulous mechanics restore locomotives to operate better-than-new.
Railroad Heritage Weekend will also celebrate Blue Ridge Mountain culture that has survived through centuries of change. The Cherokee dancers and Tsa-La-Gi Touring Program will present shows at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 26. The Memorabilia Room will also be open so visitors can see real historic artifacts from the ET&WNC and North Carolina¹s first theme park.
All Railroad Heritage Weekend activities are included in Tweetsie Railroad¹s regular daily admission, with the exception of the special 1870s vintage coach car train, which will require a $5 donation per passenger that will go toward supporting East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad restoration projects.
About Tweetsie Railroad
Tweetsie Railroad opens for its 60th Anniversary season on April 7, 2017. Hours and dates vary; check Tweetsie.com before planning your visit.
Daytime admission is $45 for adults, $30 for children (ages 3 to 12) and free for children 2 and under. Admission prices for Ghost Train and Tweetsie Christmas are $38 for adults and children.
Tweetsie Railroad is located on U.S. Highway 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina. For more information about the 2017 season at Tweetsie Railroad, visitTweetsie.com or call 877.TWEETSIE (877.898.3874).