Train Excursion to Asheville, NC

October 13, 2013

For many years I had wanted to take a train trip to Asheville, NC. There was regular passenger service three days a week in the 1970s, but it was stopped before I got around to riding it. In 2008 an Amtrak official told me that was the most requested route for them to add to their system. Their research suggested that it would be economically viable and would enhance ridership on other routes that would connect to it. The main bar to starting the service was lack of rolling stock. Towns along the route have refurbished their stations, in part because of the possibility of restored service.

So I would need either to live long enough for Amtrak to restart service, or I would need to take a fall excursion. For some years by the time I found out information on the trip, it was already sold out. Finally on October 31, 2010, I got to ride the train to Asheville. The dome cars were sold out, but I was able to get "first class" as they called it. It was less than ideal, but I did get some pictures, saw nice scenery, and met interesting people. You can see pictures from that trip here.

In 2013 I was pleasantly surprised to be able to book a seat in a dome car. So on Saturday I headed to Salisbury and did their home tour and spent the night so I could arrive bright and early (OK early, anyway) on Sunday morning to catch the train. I was able to get one of the rocking swivel chairs near the center of the car. Most of the seats were at tables.

A young couple sat at the table next to me, and some family (I think her parents) sat at the table across from them.

From Spencer the train headed down to Salisbury to get on the main line that parallels US 70 mostly. We passed through the Piedmont towns along that route. The picture below shows the train passing through Hickory, and the next picture shows the station there.

Fall color was late that year, so we were ahead of it even in most higher elevations.

At Old Fort we started our ascent to Black Mountain, over the Eastern Continental Divide. There are numerous switchbacks along the route.

From the switchbacks you can see the man-made Andrews Geyser, which strangely was not running that day. I include a picture from the 2010 trip to show what it looks like in operation. Notice the trees that were already bare by October 31 on that trip.

The train passes through seven tunnels, including one at the continental divide.

We arrived in Asheville and stopped at the rail yard near Biltmore Village.

After lunch we returned to the train. While we were exploring the Biltmore area, they turned the train around for the trip home. If you would like to see more of the train, you can watch the video I made of the train backing up to return to the area where we had left it.

The Salisbury Post ran an article on the trip. The writer interviewed several of us. The print version featured some longer quotations from the guy who rode next to me, and included a comment or two from me. They included a picture of us, so you can see me in my easy chair.

2010 Asheville Train Excursion

Salisbury Home Tour

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