All Aboard for a Scenic Train Ride
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway takes passengers on a restored rail line, departing from the historic depot built in downtown Blue Ridge in 1905. The railroad originally began construction in Marietta, GA, in 1877 and reached Blue Ridge in 1886. The route then continued northwest via the Hiwassee River Gorge. In the early days, passengers would come to Blue Ridge in search of the fabled mineral springs in the area. Later, the tracks were used mostly for freight hauling. After years of disuse, the line was put up for sale. Local investors bought it and began operating the excursion service in 1998. In 2016, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway was purchased by Patriot Rail out of Jacksonville, FL, which still maintains the service.
Regular trips typically run 13 miles (about 2 hours) each way along the scenic Toccoa River, and arrive in the twin border towns of McCaysville, GA, and Copperhill, TN. Passengers then have 2 hours to wander the towns, grab a drink or bite to eat, shop for unique finds or walk across the old bridge to view the river.
Special trips are usually shorter and stop at fun destinations along the way. The Easter Eggspress takes families on an egg hunt, while the Harvest Festival ride features games, music, snacks and costumed characters. The Santa Express includes visits with Santa and his elves, Christmas carols, holiday stories and more. And the New Year’s Eve Excursion is an adults-only way to ring in the new year.
Free parking is available at 105 Mountain Street in Blue Ridge. From Hwy. 515 in Blue Ridge, turn right on Cook Street (Burger King on corner). Go straight thru the traffic light onto Mountain Street. Go across the tracks and turn left into the city parking lot. The depot is a short walk south to Depot Street.