smoky mountain railwayThere is just something about trains and mountains that go together. You can enjoy both during your next stay at Cherokee Cabin with a train ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railway.

The railway operates two main routes. The first runs out of Bryson City and takes a trip to the Nantahalla River Gorge. The second runs out of Dillsboro and explores the Tuckasegee River basin.

Both trains operate with four seating options. There is an open air train that is great for the spring and fall, but you may want to avoid it during the heat of summer or if you have a bad back, as it only has bench style seating. The coach seating offers comfortable captain type chairs with two seats per row, but like the open air, it does not have air conditioning. The crown coach and club car both are climate controlled, and offer a much nicer environment. The crown coach seats are exactly like the coach, while the club car offers a table setting for seating. They club car also serves light snacks and sodas.

The train ride goes through the mountains and over some neat bridges that cross local rivers and lakes. The scenery is fantastic, but time of the year can play a big role in the overall experience. Spring and Fall are certainly the best times to go, although Summer tends to be the busiest.

They serve a lunch during the trip, which is nothing more that a $9.00 sandwich. The train also has an hour layover at its destination, where you can grab something to eat as well.

The railway, like most moutain railways, was not easy to build. Parts of mountains had to be dynamited away, and at times tunnels had to be dug through the heart of a mountain. It was mostly convicts, or "chain gangs", that worked the mountain. At one point 19 of the inmates drowned as their raft sank on the Tuckasegee River, and they could not escape as they were shackled to the boat.

The railway started running back in the 1880's, and back then served an important role in transporting the isolated mountaineers to the larger city of Asheville. The railway brought a new way of life to the rural people, as they could now purchase goods from the "outside" world they had never really been able to obtain. The railway became so popular that six trains ran between Murphy and Asheville every day of the week.

The Great Smoky Mountain Railway can be very good, but make sure you bring your patience with you. At times, you feel like you are part of a cattle roundup, as you wait in line to be boarded, then wait in line for lunch, then wait in line at your destination. This is one trip where you might want to splurge for the best seating possible. We sat in coach which wasn't bad, but we happened to be at the very end of the train. All of the drinks are in the very first car, so if you get thirsty you have to walk all the way to the front, which gets to be a drag. Basically, if you are the type of person that hates waiting in line at Wal-Mart, then this might not be the trip for you.

The round trip price varies between $35 and $55 dollars, so it is certainly not the cheapest attraction in the Smoky Mountains. However, it is certainly one of the things that most people do when they visit Cherokee Cabin, and we will let you be the judge yourself.

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