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2016 Rail Excursions


train crossing river


The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum is pleased to announce its Spring 2016 Rail Excursion through the scenic Hiwassee River Gorge to the mining town of Copperhill in East Tennessee. For the first time we are pleased to announce that the trip will proceed all the way to Copperhill. The excursion date is set for Saturday, April 2, 2016, and will offer an opportunity to ride the rails through the one of the most beautiful river gorges in the United States as the railroad tracks travel along the Hiwassee River. The rail excursion to Copperhill will take a 50-mile trip along this beautiful river to the famous "Hiwassee Loop". After traversing the river gorge and negotiating the spiral near Farner, TN, the train continues through Turtletown and Ducktown to the former mining town of Copperhill, TN / McCaysville, GA.

The special attraction of the trip is traveling through the Narrows, where the Hiwassee River flows through rock channels, and the Bald Mountain Loop. The track actually passes over itself on a high trestle during a corkscrew climb up the mountain near Farner. Tracks along this route parallel the river for most of its length, providing views of the lower gorge. After leaving Copperhill on the return via motor coach, passengers will get to view the beautiful Ocoee River Gorge.

General Deluxe Coach seating is offered on this excursion, providing passengers with comfortable cushioned seats with large windows. Historic 1950's-era diesel locomotives will pull the vintage enclosed climate-controlled coaches with rest rooms in each car. We are excited to announce that for 2016 we will offer seating aboard the luxury car "Algonquin Park" which offers two seating options: high-level dome and comfortable observation lounge seating. Dome seating allows passengers a panoramic view of the passing scenery from high above the car. Observation lounge seating gives passengers a unique view of the railroad over which we pass from the end of the car that will be on the rear of the train. Both seating options in "Algonquin Park" include complimentary snack service.

deluxe coach car
dome car
observation car
Deluxe Coach Seating
Dome Seating
Observation Seating

Snack items are available for sale on the train including: soft drinks, coffee, water, chips, crackers, and candy bars. Souvenirs are also sold onboard including: t-shirts, caps, and books.

Our trip will begin in downtown Johnson City, TN at 7:15 am on the morning of April 2 at the Big Burley parking lot at 104 Legion St. (corner of State of Franklin and Legion St.) where passengers will board a motor coach to Etowah, TN. We will also pick up passengers at the Sleep Solution Mattress Gallery parking lot at 2030 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy, Greeneville, TN, at 7:45 am as well as passengers in Morristown, TN at 8:15 am at the Expo Center parking lot near the exit of I-81 and US 25E. (A map will be included with tickets to your designated parking area.) Lunch will be on your own at restaurants in Athens, TN before we board the train in Etowah at 12:45 pm for a 1:00 pm departure. The train will arrive in Copperhill at 3:30 pm. Our train will depart Copperhill at 3:45 pm with expected motor coach arrival back at Morristown at 7:15 pm, Greeneville at 7:45 pm and Johnson City at 8:15 pm. The motor coaches will make a food stop (again on your own) during the return trip. A loading ramp is available at all train boarding locations.


Note: Observation lounge and Dome seating is very limited. Order soon to ensure your choice of seating.

Each ticket includes train ride and motor coach to and from Etowah, TN. Meals are not included. To order tickets, send a check or money order (sorry, cash or credit cards not accepted) along with the number of tickets you're purchasing to Spring 2016 Rail Excursion, Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum, P. O. Box 432, Johnson City, TN 37605-0432. A printable order form is available here. Please be sure to tell us whether you're boarding the motor coach in Johnson City, Greeneville or Morristown. Also specify if you will accept an alternate class of service if your choice is sold out; you will be refunded the difference. Money will be refunded if you do not wish an alternate service. For questions about the trip, e-mail wataugavalley@gmail.com or phone our ticket office at (423) 753-5797.

The railroad line was originally built to haul ore from the copper basin in Copperhill, TN. Regularly scheduled passenger trains operated over this line until 1968; the last freight train traveled the "Old Line" in 2001. The Tennessee Overhill Association took over ownership of the rail line in 2004. This will be a very unique opportunity to ride on this historic railroad.

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