Train excursion to support Chuckey Depot restoration in Jonesborough

Johnson City Press • Feb 13, 2016 at 9:03 PM

Love trains? How about historic train depots?

Here’s your chance to translate your love of rail travel into support for the historic preservation of one of Washington County’s remaining railroad treasures, the Chuckey Depot.

The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society supports efforts to restore the Chuckey Depot with passenger train excursions throughout the region. Together with the Town of Jonesborough, the Railroad Historical Society saved the Chuckey depot from demolition and took it from Chuckey to Jonesborough. The Town dismantled the depot piece by piece and moved it to 2nd street in Jonesborough near a railroad crossing. Jonesborough's has been without a train depot since 1972.

The society’s Mike Tilley said the preservation stands about 60 percent complete as organizers raise more funds toward the museum work.

On Saturday, April 2, the Railroad Historical Society will sponsor its Spring 2016 Rail Excursion starting in Johnson City by bus and going by train through the scenic Hiwassee River Gorge to the mining town of Copperhill in East Tennessee.

“We have never done the trip all the way to Copperhill,” the society said in a news release. “The excursion will offers an opportunity to ride the rails through the one of the most beautiful river gorges in the United States as the railroad tracks travel along the Hiwassee River all the way to Copperhill.”

The rail trip will take a 50-mile, roundtrip rail excursion along the river to the famous "Hiwassee Loop.” After traversing the river gorge and negotiating the spiral near Farner, the train continues through Turtletown and Ducktown to the former mining town of Copperhill, Tennessee/McCaysville, Georgia.

“The special attraction of the trip is traveling through the Narrows, where the Hiwassee River flows through rock channels, and the Bald Mountain Loop,” the society’s news release said. “The track actually passes over itself on a high trestle during a corkscrew climb up the mountain near Farner, Tennessee. Tracks along this route parallel the river for most of its length, providing views of the lower gorge. After we leave Copperhill via motor coach, passenger will get to view the beautiful Ocoee River Gorge.

“The railroad was originally built to haul ore from the copper basin in Copper Hill. Regularly scheduled passenger trains operated over this line until 1968; the last freight train traveled the ’Old Line’ in 2001. The Tennessee Overhill Association took over ownership of the rail line in 2004.”

All proceeds from the excursion will go to toward restoration of the Chuckey Train Depot and Museum at Jonesborough.

The spring trip will begin in downtown Johnson City at 7:15 on the morning of April 2 at The Big Burley Parking Lot at 104 Legion St. (corner of State of Franklin and Legion St.) where passengers will board a motor coach to Etowah. The society will also pick up passengers at the Sleep Solution Mattress Gallery parking lot, 2030 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy., Greeneville, at 7:45 a.m. and in Morristown at 8:15 a.m. at the Expo Center Parking lot near the exit of I-81 and US 25E. A map will be included with tickets to the designated parking area.

Lunch will be from each passenger’s own pocket at restaurants in Athens before train boarding at 12:45 p.m. for a 1 p.m. departure.

The train will reach Copperhill at 3:30 p.m. The motor coaches will depart Copperhill at 3:45 p.m. with expected arrival back at Morristown at 7:15 p.m., Greeneville at 7:45 p.m. and Johnson City at 8:15 p.m. The motor coaches will make a food stop during the return trip.

Ticket cost:

Deluxe Coach _ $94.00 per Adult and $84.00 per Child.

Observation - $120.00 per Adult and $110 per child

Dome Class - $150.00 per Adult and $140 per child

(Note: Observation & Dome Class are very limited)

Specify if you will accept an alternate class of service if your choice is sold out. You will be refunded the difference. Money will be refunded if you do not wish an alternate service.

Ticket includes train ride and motor coach to and from Etowah. Meals are not included. To order tickets, send a check or money order (sorry, cash or credit cards not accepted) along with the number of tickets you're purchasing to Spring 2015 Rail Excursion, Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum, P. O. Box 432, Johnson City, TN 37605-0432. A printable order form is available ON LINE at www.wataugavalleynrhs.org click on excursons. Be sure to say whether you're boarding the motor coach in Johnson City, Greeneville or Morristown. For questions about the trip e-mail [email protected] or phone our ticket office at (423) 753-5797 call between the hours of 9am – 4 pm.

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