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RyPN Briefs November 15, 2006
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Maggie Valley Railroad Memories

The recent question on the Interchange about the Maggie Valley Railroad brought some memories back to mind. I got married in August of 1967 in Cincinnati, OH and we went on our honeymoon to the Fontana Dam resort in the Smokey Mountains area of North Carolina. During our trip we visited four different railroads.

The photos were taken with my first 35mm camera that I purchased used. I recently used a just purchased Nikon Coolscan 5000 scanner to copy the 35mm negatives to computer files. Some came out good and some came out so-so.

The first operation visited was the Gold Rush Junction, home of the Gold Rush, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, & Western Railroad. The operation was formerly called the Rebel Railroad and today is known as Dollywood.

At the entrance to the park were two locos on display on hills on both sides of the road. One was Ex-Genesee & Wyoming Railroad 2-6-0 #9 (BLW #34964 7, 1910) and the other was ex-East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad #419 (BLW #8869 11, 1887).

The entrance to the Dry Gulch Junction park looking from the hill with the displayed 2-8-0 toward the hill with the displayed 2-6-0. All photos by Ed Burger.
Close-up view of the displayed 2-6-0 (ex-Genesee & Wyoming RR #9).
Close-up of the displayed 2-8-0 (ex-E. Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia RR #419).

Inside was a typical old west town with a train ride around a loop, complete with a hold-up by outlaws. The power for the train was the 3 ft gauge 2-8-2 #192 ex-WP&Y #192 (BLW #69427 2, 1943). The engine had the obligatory bright colors and the fake wood burner stack. Inside, on display was a 2-4-0, ex-Tennessee Coal & Iron #110 (Porter #7567 3, 1944) also cursed with a fake stack and headlight.

View of part of the town with the train departing in the background.
Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge & Western #192 2-8-2 (ex-WP&Y #192) at station.

Train out on the loop.

Ex-Tennessee Coal & Iron #110 2-4-0 on display in town.

As far as I know three of the four engines shown are still at Dollywood. The 2-6-0 was moved and placed on display at the Chattanooga, TN Hilton Inn.

The second operation we saw was the Maggie Valley Railroad in Maggie Valley, NC. This was a very small operation. What was running was a 2 truck Heisler #2 "Old Cinders" (Heisler #1260, 1912) and ex-Santee River Hardwood Co. #7. They also had another 2 truck Heisler #3 "Lil Toot" (Heisler ? 1906), ex-Santee River Hardwood #3, but I didn't see it. The train departed the station in one direction and returned facing the opposite direction. Memory fails me but I assume there was a loop or a wye at the far end as the loco always had the cars behind the coal bunker, and I don't remember the engine running around the train.

Maggie Valley Railroad train at station.

Maggie Valley Railroad #2 "Old Cinders." This engine now operates on the Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad in Freeport, IL.

Train on line after leaving station.

On the outbound trip we passed a wooden combine which I believe was being used as a lunch diner. Also, shoved back onto a remote siding and stored was a wooden coach. During our trip on the train, in true logging railroad tradition, the crew detected something wrong under the engine and stopped to make emergency repairs.

Old combine used as a diner. History of car unknown.

Old wooden coach stored out in the weeds.

What was that noise?

Both of the Heislers were sold in 1974 to the Whitewater Valley Railroad in Indiana where #2 was operated for a time. #3 was resold to a private individual and #2 presently resides at the Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad in Illinois. I have no idea what happened to the passenger cars.

The third railroad visited was the Tweetsie Railroad at Blowing Rock, NC. Again there was an old west town with a loop railroad. The power for the train was #190 (Baldwin #69425 2, 1943) ex-WP&Y #190 again with the fake wood burning stack. Again it was a loop with a train hold-up along the way.

Tweetsie #190 (ex-WP&Y #190)2-8-2 at station.

Train leaving station.

Tweetsie train out on the line.

Tweetsie train returning to station.

Back in the shop area was #12 4-6-0 (Baldwin #45069 2, 1917) ex-ET&WNC #12. She not only got the fake wood burning stack but was also cursed with a fake box headlight. I just saw a recent photo of her and she has lost both and looks much better. Along with the 4-6-0 at the shop area was ET&WNC combine #15. This car is now at the Spencer Shops museum.

Engine house area with ex-ET&WNC #12 4-6-0 and coach-baggage-RPO #15.

Ex-ET&WNC #12 4-6-0 with fake stack, headlight and cow catcher.

Finally, on the way home we ran across a new operation at Wytheville, VA called the Dry Gulch Junction. Nothing was running when we were there. The two locomotives for the operation were a 3T shay (Lima #1568 9, 1905) ex-Elk River Coal & Lumber #19 and a 2T Heisler (Heisler #1569 8, 1929) ex-Forest Products #2. (On a side note, the Dry Gulch Junction was in operation from the mid 60s until 1981 when it was shut down. It was purchased in 1999 and re-opened as Virginia City without the railroad.)

Dry Gulch Junction sign outside Wytheville, VA. This attraction closed in 1981 but was re-opened in 1999 as Virginia City without the railway.

View of railroad from highway.

3T shay (ex-Elk River Coal & Lumber #19).

2T heisler (ex-Forest Products #2).

The Shay is now on display in Veterans Park in Harrod, OH and the Hiesler is on display at the Cradle of the Confederacy Museum in Andalusia, Alabama.

As can be seen, the big theme for parks in the late 60s was the Wild West theme. Hope you enjoyed this trip back in the past.