The train route consists of a 26-mile round trip through historic Murphy Junction along the beautiful Toccoa River. This railroad was built over 100 years ago. The last passenger train to operate over this line was a one-time special trip that ran in the 1960′s.
Each regular trip begins at the depot in Blue Ridge, Georgia and includes a stop in McCaysville which permits passengers to disembark and stretch their legs while exploring the downtown communities of McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee. Each round trip takes approximately 4 hours. Throughout the year there are many special trips that do not stop or have different destinations. Always be sure to check a current schedule for the date you wish to ride for activities and times.
The original main line was built to Murphy, North Carolina, which was reached in late 1886. The builders intended to continue until they reached Knoxville, Tennessee, but in 1887, the plans were changed as Knoxville and Blue Ridge were ultimately connected via a slightly different but much more exciting route via the Hiawassee River gorge. The route was built as the narrow-gauge Marietta & North Georgia Railroad. Construction began in Marietta in 1877 and reached Blue Ridge in 1886.
At Talking Rock, Georgia, the line originally made an unusual 180-degree change in direction through a very sharp horseshoe-shaped curve dubbed “the hook” by train crews. The curve was so sharp that crews claimed that if the conductor’s cigar went out in the caboose, he had only to wait until the train got to the “hook”, because he could merely lean out and get a light from the engineer.
Railroads played a significant role in the development of this area between the 1800′s and the early 1900′s, in that they determined the routes of local roads, saved an ailing mining industry, contributed to the growth of small towns as resort communities, and made it possible to log the last remaining virgin timber in the area.
In 1896, the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad was purchased and renamed the Atlanta, Knoxville & Northern, and in 1902 was sold yet again, taking on the new owner’s name, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, in 1905. Name changes came fast and furious after the 1960′s; “Family Lines”, “Seaboard System”, and finally “CSX” in the 1980′s. But by this time, passenger service had long since been terminated, with the line continuing on as a freight carrier.
In 1990, the line was put up for sale, and a group of local investors stepped in to preserve rail service into north Georgia. As a result, passenger trains are operating once again into the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. Since excursion service began operating in 1998, the train has been staffed with dedicated volunteer Car Hosts from all over the surrounding area. Each host is required to attend training classes before serving. Some of our hosts spend the weekend in the mountains and others sign up on a per-trip basis.
In 2006 our first trip guide was published titled Along The Way Blue Ridge Scenic, that includes pictures and much more detail about the route. Since that time the guide has been updated and is in a color version. For more information pick up a copy at the Depot Gift Shop.