Enjoy a leisurely one-hour train ride from a quaint town in North Georgia to the Georgia/Tennessee state line
By Hope S. Philbrick
Supposedly the energy force felt when crossing the equator shakes airplanes and boats.
Thus I wasn’t sure what to expect while placing one foot on each side of the state line that passes through the conjoined twin border towns of McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee, painted on the pavement as a blue dashed stripe.
The towns are the lunch stop after a leisurely one-hour ride aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway on a route that starts in Blue Ridge, Georgia. The train ride is great fun. It’s hard not to smile when the red locomotive pulls out of the 100-year-old depot in quaint downtown Blue Ridge pulling 10 vintage railcars (some climate-controlled, some open-air). The 26-mile round trip winds through some of North Georgia’s most scenic areas and offers photogenic peeks at the Toccoa River through dense foliage. Gorgeous in any season, it’s an especially popular autumn trip.
Friendly car hosts share interesting facts about sites passed en route and even suggest where to point your camera to capture the best vistas. The trip follows the old Marietta and North Georgia Railroad line circa 1877. Abandoned in 1949, it was re-stored and re-launched as the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in 1998.
During the 1.5-hour layover there’s time to crisscross the state line, shop for crafts and antiques, grab a bakery or ice cream snack, explore or eat lunch. (My car host said that he’d eaten at several of the McCaysville/Copperhill restaurants and hadn’t gotten sick. I took it as a joke, but after testing multiple dining options I realized that it was the kindest thing he could think to say. I recommend packing a picnic lunch then dining in Blue Ridge, Georgia after the train journey.)
Blue Ridge is a more than just where to board and disembark the train: It’s a worthy destination in its own right. Find unique treasures in the interesting assortment of art and craft galleries, antique shops and specialty boutique shops. Prefer to spend time with nature? Hiking, biking, tubing, rafting, fishing, hunting, boating, swimming and horseback riding opportunities abound in the region that’s 40 percent National Forest.
There is one side-effect to a Blue Ridge getaway: You’ll feel a pull to return.
***Odds of Encountering Children: High. For the best odds, avoid the special December dates offering rides with Santa.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
-Train photos courtesy Blue Ridge, Georgia CVB
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