One of the N.C. Transportation Museum’s most popular offerings combines the romance of rail travel, a great destination and the convenience of a day trip. Autumn Train Excursions offer the rare opportunity to take a daylight train trip on vintage rail cars through beautiful countryside. Trips typically sell out, so those wishing to purchase are urged to act quickly.
These one-day trips are presented by the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum and act as fundraisers for both organizations.
The Blue Ridge Autumn Special
Asheville, N.C. – Saturday, Oct. 31st
The Blue Ridge Special will travel through the western North Carolina Piedmont, into the foothills and on to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Departing Spencer at 7 a.m., the train will roll through the cities of Statesville, Hickory, Morganton, Marion, Black Mountain and Swannanoa, along the way, climbing the famed "loops" of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The train will pass through several tunnels and pass by the Andrews Geyser, a spectacular sight, before arriving in Asheville at noon.
Passengers will have nearly three hours for an outing at Biltmore Village. Established in the late 1890s as a planned community near the entrance of the Biltmore estate, Biltmore Village offers shopping in unique, locally-owned boutiques. Passengers can dine in restaurants and walk along brick sidewalks that parallel tree-lined streets. All of this will be enjoyed alongside spectacular views of the North Carolina mountains. Departing Asheville at 3 p.m., the "Blue Ridge Special" will return to Spencer at 8 p.m.
The Virginia Autumn Special
Charlottesville, Va. – Sunday, Nov. 1st
Departing Spencer at 7 a.m., Sunday's "Virginia Autumn Special" will offer a second passenger pick-up at the Greensboro Amtrak Station at 8 a.m., allowing for a more convenient boarding opportunity for those living north of Spencer. Passing through the North Carolina cities of Thomasville, High Point and Reidsville, and the Virginia cities of Danville, Lynchburg and Oak Ridge, passengers will experiences beautiful views of the Piedmont and rolling hills of the Carolinas and the western part of Central Virginia. Spectacular views of the Dan, Roanoke and James Rivers will be seen as the train crosses above. The train will even pass by Schuyler, the mountain town fictionalized in the television show "The Waltons."
At noon, the "Virginia Autumn Special" will arrive in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. Here, travelers will have nearly three hours to explore the historic downtown area. A short walk takes you to the Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall, considered one of the most beautiful and successful pedestrian malls in the nation. Unique shopping and dining opportunities can be found in boutiques, specialty wine, coffee and tea shops and outdoor dining spots.