A few tickets left for the Blue Ridge Special

  • Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:28 a.m.

The N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum are again sponsoring Autumn Train Excursions, day trips by rail to great destinations.

These annual train excursions happen one weekend per year, with two destinations featured. This year’s excursion to Charlottesville, Va., Oct. 12, has already sold out. However, tickets still remain for the “Blue Ridge Special,” a daytrip to Asheville, Sunday, Oct. 13. Providing amazing views of the changing leaves and a rare journey by rail, getting there is truly half the fun.

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. The train will cross the Catawba River on a large trestle, then twist through the famous loops near Old Fort. This engineering marvel takes riders over the Blue Ridge on a 13-mile twisting route that pierces several tunnels and nearly crosses the train over itself at other times, offering breathtaking views.

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.

Only tourist class seating remains for the trip to Asheville. Featuring the convenience and comforts of modern Amtrak travel, each car has a center aisle with two adjustable seats and a wide window on each side. This seating area provides convenient access to the souvenir and cafe cars. Tourist class seating is $150 per person.

Additional amenities available to travelers include a gourmet boxed lunch. Delivered to your seat, passengers can save time for shopping and sightseeing. Served in a souvenir tote, the meal includes a half turkey wrap, pasta salad, tortilla chips and salsa, a cookie and drink. This option is $15 per person and available only in advance with ticket purchase.

Travelers can also take home a souvenir T-shirt. Featuring the “Autumn Rails” logo, these T-shirts will be distributed with passenger boarding passes. T-shirts are $20 each and are available in green or rust. Photos of the T-shirt design are available at www.nctrans.org. Travelers wishing to expand their journey into an entire weekend can also take advantage of packages that include the Autumn Train Excursion and Historic Salisbury Foundation’s Annual OctoberTour of Historic Homes. OctoberTour, taking place in Salisbury, just three miles from the N.C. Transportation Museum, provides a close-up look at Salisbury’s private, historic buildings and allows visitors to experience the city’s charm in a few of the 10 districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Trolley rides, living history encampments, food, artists and music make this an event not to miss. As an added bonus, the first 200 people to buy OctoberTour and Excursion tickets will receive free Downtown Dollars to spend at participating downtown Salisbury stores.

Excursion passengers can experience OctoberTour at a special rate of $18 per person, when adding OctoberTour to their Excursion ticket purchase.

OctoberTour and the Autumn Train Excursions, due to scheduling, cannot be experienced on the same day. Those traveling on the Asheville excursion will purchase tickets to the Saturday, Oct. 12 OctoberTour. Please note that those buying ticket packages will be responsible for their own overnight accommodations.

Tickets are on sale and now can be purchased by calling 704-636-2889 ext. 237 or visiting online at www.nctrans.org.

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