Tweetsie Railroad, North Carolina
As the saying goes, “Tweetsie is more than a train. It’s an institution, a tradition, and a legend.” This family-oriented railroad attraction located between Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina has been put into history as the Carolina’s Original Theme Park. Tweetsie Railroad opened and made its first public trip on July 4, 1957, when Grover Robbins moved the 1917-built train in a three-mile loop in the Blue Ridge Mountains as a tourist attraction. Over time, a small-theme park referencing a western town was built around. The new setting has attracted more visitors, giving them more room for activities around the area.
Tweetsie’s name actually originated after the local folks referenced the whistles that have been echoing from the steam train through the hills, the “tweet tweet” sound. Aside from the original Tweetsie, the railroad is also operating another train, the Yukon Queen which was added in 1960, a train from Alaska’s White Pass and Yukon Railway. The railroad is now currently maintained and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Gearing towards a more realistic portrayal of the Western town is the inclusion of robbery and Indian attack and cowboy shoot-em-ups shows in the train ride. This gives the park the reputation of having a good set of entertainers and memorable performances. A chairlift and an amusement ride area atop of the mountain were also added in 1962. Another area of the park is the rarely visited yet very important Locomotive Shop that functions as a rehabilitating area for the two vintage trains. This shop serves as a repair area not only for Tweetsie and Yukon Queen but also for trains from Dollywood, Busch Gardens, the North Carolina Transportation Museum, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, and the Callaway Gardens. Tweetsie is one of the few remaining repair shops that serve steam engine restoration facilities as reflected by the dwindling number of steam-engine vehicles nowadays.
The rides at Tweetsie Railroad include a carousel, Ferris wheel, Tilt-a-whirl, chairlift, fo carts, scrambler, and several small children rides. Extreme rides were added up in 2007, the drop tower ride, Tornado, and Round-Up. Another ride, The Den of Lost Thieves, a pirate-themed dark ride, will be introduced soon. Other attractions include live entertainment, which is practically old-fashioned yet fun in nature. Aside from the Wilde West Train Adventure, Tweetsie also presents Diamond Lil’s Can-Can Revue which features Can-Can dancers tuning in to traditional music of the 1800s. The Tweetsie Country Clogging Jamboree features classic country and bluegrass songs. Hopper and Porter’s Musical Celebration features the story of the fictional rabbit engineer and tortoise conductor of the train in a live musical.
Visitors of the Tweetsie Railroad have a lot of options to dine in and to shop inside the park. It’s just a magnificent way to view such small beginnings to grow into something like this.