The History Of Our Train
A heritage railroad, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway has a significant history dating back to the early 1900s.
The Foundation Of Blue Ridge
Railroads played a vital role in the development of this area between the 1800s and the early 1900s. 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.
The original tracks starting in Marietta, Georgia reached Blue Ridge and the surrounding areas in 1886. The line running east towards Copperhill, Tennessee originally made a very sharp horseshoe-shaped curve dubbed “the hook” via the Hiawassee Loop. The curve was so sharp that crews claimed that if the conductor’s cigar went out in the caboose, he could wait until the train got to the “hook” then easily lean out and get a light from the engineer.
By 1905, the M&NG line had been purchased twice and was now called the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. Depots in these smaller, mountain towns served as a place for shipping products, receiving mail and supplies, and gossip. In 1905, the Blue Ridge depot was built, and the railroad was in full forward motion.
The last passenger train departed Blue Ridge, Georgia in 1951, but freight trains continued to be shipped through the area until the L&N Railroad ceased operations in 1987. In 1990, a group of Blue Ridge citizens started working on restoring the railroad. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway opened for business in 1998 and began passenger excursions from Blue Ridge to McCaysville, Georgia.
During the first year of these excursions, ridership on the BRSR reached more than 17,000 passengers. Today the BRSR hosts more than 78,000 passengers annually. The train still travels its original 26-mile round trip route from Blue Ridge, Georgia alongside the Toccoa River to the sister towns of McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee. In 2015, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway was purchased by Patriot Rail, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.