We got up early and headed out to Blue Ridge, Georgia, to ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is an excursion train that runs from Blue Ridge to McCaysville, Ga – Copperhill, Tn. It’s a 13-mile, one-hour ride each way with a two-hour stop in McCaysville-Copperhill.
Our train was leaving at 11:00 a.m. and we arrived in plenty of time to board.
Everyone on the railway except the engineer and concessions staff are volunteers. They’re an exceptionally nice, helpful group of folks.
While everyone was settling in for the ride, our car host, Lynn, talked to us about safety and a few things we might expect during our ride. Lynn was very entertaining and extremely knowledgeable about the railway’s history and all the sights along the way. We couldn’t have asked for a better host! Thanks, Lynn!
The railway offers a choice of either open-air or climate controlled cars. We chose the open-air car and, even though it was a hot day, I think that was the best way to travel. We wouldn’t have seen nearly as much in one of the closed cars and I couldn’t have gotten photos through those windows!
The cars are comfortable and all the seats face outward so everyone gets a good view. Lynn pointed out to us the wallpaper on the ceiling of our car which was covered with the seal of the state of New York. That’s because our car used to belong to the Long Island Rail Road. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway purchased the car and refitted it but they kept the wallpaper intact.
Our A was still just slightly skeptical that it wouldn’t be boring at this point, so the video games came out. That lasted until the train started rolling and we never saw the games again the rest of the day.
Mag is ready to roll!
One of the first sights we saw as we departed from Blue Ridge was a large horse farm. The lush pastures and traditional white fencing were quite beautiful.
The train quickly passes from rolling pastures into more rugged territory. You find yourself surrounded by rocky mountain sides covered in thick foliage on one side of the train and the beautiful Toccoa River on the other side. I was surprised to see rhododendron still blooming so late in the year. Ours have been out of bloom for several months.
This is the old junction that formerly led to Murphy, North Carolina. All along the way I kept thinking how our ancestors must have felt traveling these rails back in their day. They didn’t have the option of driving anywhere they wanted like we do now and depended on the trains to get them from place to place. I honestly can’t say that it would have been a bad way to live.
All along the route, the tracks follow the lovely Toccoa River. When the river reaches the Tennessee state line it becomes the Ocoee River. The Georgia part of the river is shallow and slow running.
We saw lots of people fishing from boats or just wading in the river to fly fish. In most places the water was just about to an adult’s knee.
The view of the serene river is one of the most pleasurable aspects of the entire trip. There’s always something different to see around the next bend in the tracks.
About halfway through the trip is one of the most interesting historical points – the fish trap. The fish trap was constructed more than 500 years ago by Native Americans who pre-dated the Cherokee. After all this time it is still in pristine condition. The trap is formed by rocks laid in the shape of a “V” with an opening at the narrow end. The children would be sent upstream to splash and stomp and scare the fish into swimming toward the V where the women would scoop them up in baskets. Ingenious!
As the tracks twist and turn along the way, there are several curves where you can see the entire train from your car.
Along the tracks you occasionally see another relic of days gone by – telegraph poles!
As we were nearing McCaysville, our car host asked everyone to be sure their heads and hands were inside the car. We soon found out why! There is very little clearance between the train and the trestle while crossing the final bridge!
After a very pleasant hour of riding, we arrived in McCaysville, Ga – Copperhill, Tn. McCaysville-Copperhill is divided right through by the Georgia-Tennessee state line. You can literally stand with one foot in Georgia and one in Tennessee.
McCaysville-Copperhill is a pretty little town and we had a two-hour stop there. Since it was noon, we headed out to find some lunch first. All the restaurants and shops in town are listed on a nice walking tour map provided by the railway. We were looking over our choices and settled on El Rio Mexican Restaurant. I tried to steer our crew in a different direction as I was thinking, “Mexican food in the north Georgia mountains? Really?” But, let me tell you, it was delicious!