10 Fun Facts About the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Every place has its own iconic events, attractions and locations that you must see while visiting the area. Bryson City and the Smoky Mountains are no different. There are just some things you don't want to miss. One of those is the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. This iconic attraction will forever stay in your memory. It may create a new tradition or simply put a smile on your face. But what is the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad? Well, this week we have some fun facts and information that will convince you to make a day trip to this wonderfully wholesome destination.
Choose your engine
Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad has two different engines? Yes, it's true – both steam and diesel electric train fans will find themselves right at home on the railroad.
My favorite is the steam engine 1702. There is just something magical about watching the steam wafting through the air as the engine works its way down the track.
How old is the railroad?
The Great Smoky Mountain railroad as we know it today was founded and been in continual operation since 1988. Over the years the railroad has expanded and changed into one of the best railroad attractions in the United States.
A popular destination
Whether you are a train fanatic or just love the Smoky Mountains, every year over 200,000 people ride the railroad. The popularity of the railroad has continued to grow with each passing year. Come ride the railroad and find out what 200,000 other people already know.
What gauge track does the railroad operate on?
If you are train buff, this is a big question. Train lovers from all over the world love to know what gauge the railroad uses. There are two types: Narrow and Standard. The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad uses standard gauge 56.5 inch tracks.
Oil or coal powered?
The 1702 steam engine is an iconic engine that was originally coal fired. However, in recent years, it has been converted to run on diesel and recovered oils to produce its steam power.
It's an exciting ride on the railroad
With 53 miles of track, two tunnels and 25 bridges you'll find each excursion packed with adventure. If you love trains, this is the place to be.
Ride the Polar Express
One of the most popular events on the railroad is the annual Polar Express Train Ride. This trip is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes roundtrip and includes a visit to the North Pole. This ride is only available November through December, and it even includes hot cocoa!
How long is the ride from Gatlinburg to the Bryson City?
The typical travel time from Gatlinburg to the Bryson City Depot is between 2 to 2.5 hours. The railroad does advise visitors that the travel time during peak periods (usually July, October and holiday weekends) may be significantly longer.
You'll love the scenery
As the train slowly crawls through the Smoky Mountains, passengers will be wowed by the beautiful scenery. The North Carolina mountains are some of the most beautiful in the nation. Rolling hills, mountain laurel, wildlife and incredible vistas are the norm on your adventure into the Smoky Mountains. Don't believe us? Check out the video above to get an idea of what you are in for during your visit.
What is the longest ride?
Tuckasegee Excursion and the Nantahala Gorge Excursion are both around 4 to 4.5 hours in length.
The Nantahal Gorge has a one hour layover on the river, at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
The Tuckasegee is the longest ride on the railroad covering 32 miles. The excursion departs from the historic Bryson City depot. This 4 hour, 32 mile round-trip travels along the Tuckasegee River, through the historic Cowee Tunnel, and past The Fugitive movie film site. Arrive in the quaint village of Dillsboro for a 1½ hour layover for shopping and dining.
Note- Some excursions are paused due to Covid-19 but should return soon...stay tuned!
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