Vicki had told me, early in our relationship, that she always wanted to ride on the train in Dillsboro, NC. It is known as the "Great Smoky Mountain Railroad". She had planned to go with her cousin, but they never seemed to make the time to go. For Vicki's birthday in 2004, I decided to take her for a train ride in the mountains of North Carolina.
The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad has all sorts of excursions that you can take, either on a steam or diesel locomotive, or even with "Thomas the Train", for the kids during a week or two each year. Some of the train rides are shorter than others, some seaonal, and they even have a train and rafting combination. I wanted to take the steam engine, and we wanted to make the excursion long enough to relax and take it easy, but not enough to make it boring, so we chose the "Nantahala Gorge" trip that took us from Dillsboro to Bryan City and back in about four and a half hours.
The car we were in didn't allow for the windows to be lowered, making for some hazy pictures, but it was heated and air conditioned. Some of the pictures we took were not as good as they would have been from an open car, but you can still see some of the nice scenery that we were able to view from the railway. The trip was full of interesting things, such as the remains of the movie scene filmed there for Harrison Ford's movie "The Fugitive", a bunch of '40s and '50's junk cars used for erosion control, and , the most interesting was the couple that followed the train, where at certain locations along the route, would dress up in a theme and wave at us as we went by.
The only drawback to this trip was that we were expecting to turn around, somehow, and continue back to Dillsboro via the steam engine. What happened on this particular day was that the steam locomotive was on one end and the diesel on the other, so......they just pulled us backwards through the same landscape. It was still a great ride, and if you've never been on a train ride, before, I think you'd enjoy this relaxing setting and pace of a steam engine excursion through the mountains of North Carolina. If we ever make it out "West", we'll probably take a train excursion through a section of the Rockies.
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