Every day I look out the window at my office and see the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. I see hundreds of people getting on the train in the morning, and then returning in the afternoon. I knew they were riding the train, but I really had no idea what they were seeing from the train. Well, this week I finally discovered what all the excitement was about!
This week, The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway invited Leadership Fannin to “Ride The Rails”. Leadership Fannin is sponsored by the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce, and we were traveling around visiting Downtown Blue Ridge, The Arts Center and Mercier Orchards.
We arrived at the train depot and were given our tickets. We didn’t act as excited as many of the children waiting to get on the train, but I was exploring a part of Blue Ridge that I had not experienced before, so I had been looking forward all weekend to our train ride.
Once everyone was on board, we departed for a leisurely train ride from Blue Ridge to McCaysville following the Toccoa River. As we left Downtown Blue Ridge, the town slid away from us and we entered the world of mountains pastures, streams and mountains. The sound of the horn announced us nearing railroad crossings. I thought that I knew the area well enough to know how many crossings there were, but I was off, way off.
We joined up with the Toccoa River about a mile below Curtis Switch, a favorite trout fishing spot along the Toccoa. From here, we never were out of sight of the river again. I saw many familiar sites, cabins that I know, and places we have kayaked and fished along the Toccoa.
As we neared McCaysville, Horseshoe Bend Park could be seen across the river. Horseshoe Bend Park is another favorite trout fishing location, and during the summer, many people launch tubes here to drift lazily down the Toccoa.
After the park, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway crosses over a steel bridge and the Toccoa. They warned everyone not to hang out of the train or stick our arm out as we neared the bridge. The steel beams supporting the bridge seemed so close to the train, but they may have been several feet away.
Arriving in McCaysville, everyone gets off of the train for several hours of shopping and dining in Downtown McCaysville and Copper Hill, TN. Technically, we stopped in Tennessee, several of the rail cars were on the Tennessee side of the state line. After their 2 hour stop in McCaysville, the train returns to Blue Ridge. We actually didn’t stay in McCaysville for the layover, we hopped in vans and sped off to Mercier Orchards for our lunch and tour of the orchard.
What a beautiful day and a big thanks to all of our hosts today with The Arts Center, Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Mercier Orchards and the Chamber of Commerce. When you come to Blue Ridge for your vacation, plan to ride the rails for an enjoyable and restful adventure.