As innkeepers at The Orchard Inn, we get asked all the time for recommendations for activities during a stay in the Western NC mountains. In any season, there is always something to do, or visit again, and you will truly have an amazing experience. One of the activities we love recommending is a visit on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. These fun tours are for people of all ages. Couple that with upcoming fall and the leave changes, you will be in for a great treat. If you are unfamiliar with the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, here is a brief history as well as some of the fun tours that are happening now.
The rail line reached Asheville in 1880 and changed the resident’s lives forever. Since the installment, getting to and from the Blue Ridge was made a lot easier. However, in the early days, the fastest train, the Asheville Cannon Ball, could only reach up to 10 miles per hour. Even though it wasn’t a lot faster, riding the rails usually beat out riding a wagon most days. Along with allowing residents to leave Asheville easier, it also allowed new luxuries into the town for citizens. Salesmen from all over peddled their wares to anyone who had the cash to buy them. The arrival of factory made cloth was quickly made superior to homespun clothes. The rail line itself was laid by local convicts and the line engineer, Captain J. W. Wilson, had many obstacles to cross when designing and constructing it. Even though the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad is used primarily for pleasure these days, it’s hard to forget that it was the railroad that helped usher in a new world for the residents of Asheville.
When it comes to choices for the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, you have a ton of them. For the upcoming fall season, here are a few highlights to look forward to. This first tour has been going on since May and will last until the end of October, the Carolina Shine. For adults only, the adult First Class car on the Nantahala Gorge tour, will get to experience hand crafted Midnight Moon moonshine. This triple distilled moonshine is the smoothest tasting moonshine around. The Moonshine Car has been completely renovated to reflect the history of moonshine as well as bootlegging. It’s history is featured throughout the car as well. Another amazing program is Lunch with the Conductor. Starting in November, the Tuckasegee River excursion will feature this program in their Family First Class car. This is a wonderful idea for riders of any age to interact and ask questions with the conductor. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. These are just a few of the many programs offered this fall. There are also many other packages offered by the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. It all depends on what your interests are. Some of the available options are: rafting, zip & ride, and ride & trail. Be sure to check out each of these to see more about these amazing packages.
As you can see, a perfect day can be spent riding the rails with the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. When people choose to spend their day on a train, they love to spend their nights with us at The Orchard Inn. While riding is fun, it is nice to stretch out and relax in comfort. We have rooms available for any group size. Our Queen and King beds envelop your body in luxury that lulls you into a restful night sleep. Every morning we cook breakfast for all of our guests to make sure they get their day started right. While you are here, be sure to book a dinner with us as well. Our in-house restaurant, Newman’s Restaurant, is loved by locals and visitors alike. We use seasonal, fresh ingredients in all of our recipes and our guests love them. Contact our amazing staff today to book your nights with us and a day with the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.
Photo by: Great Smoky Mountain Railroad