Tweetsie Railroad Celebrates 75th Birthday of Locomotive No. 190 During Railroad Heritage Weekend August 25-26

Published Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at 1:45 pm

The 2018 Railroad Heritage Weekend will celebrate the 75th birthday of steam locomotive No.190, fondly known as the “Yukon Queen.

On August 25-26, history buffs and train enthusiasts will come together for a weekend-long event to celebrate the rich history of Tweetsie Railroad and the 75th birthday of steam locomotive No. 190, fondly known as the “Yukon Queen.”

Throughout the weekend, locomotive No. 190 will pull an 1870s 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 (ET&WNC). Meanwhile, the No. 12 locomotive will pull a separate train taking riders 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 park’s unique on-site locomotive repair shop.

Tweetsie Railroad’s rich history began with the creation of the ET&WNC in 1866. 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 lumber freight. Most of the tracks to Boone were destroyed by a flood in 1940, but the railroad’s only surviving steam locomotive, Engine No. 12, was purchased by Tweetsie Railroad in 1956. Just one year later on July 4, 1957, North Carolina’s first theme park opened. Engine No. 12 , was built in 1917, and celebrated its 100th birthday last year and is part of the National Historic Register.

Tweetsie Railroad purchased its second locomotive in 1960 from Alaska’s White Pass and Yukon Railway. At that time, Engine No. 190 was refurbished 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. In the Shop, there is 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 25. Tweetsie Railroad’s Memorabilia Room will also be open so visitors can see real historic artifacts from the ET&WNC and North Carolina’s first theme park.

All Railroad Heritage Weekend activities are included in Tweetsie Railroad’s regular daily admission, with the exception of the special 1870s vintage coach car train, which will require a $5 donation per passenger; all donations go toward supporting ET&WNC Railroad restoration projects.

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