SPENCER, N.C. — One of the N.C. Transportation Museum’s most popular offerings combines the romance of rail travel, a great destination and the convenience of a day trip but if you want to be part of it, you need to act quickly.
Autumn Train Excursions offer the rare opportunity to take a daylight train trip on vintage rail cars through beautiful countryside. Trips typically sell out.
Now in its ninth year, these excursion trains will carry nearly 1,000 people to Asheville on Oct. 31 and to Charlottesville, Va., on Nov. 1.
Excursions are presented by the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum, and are fundraisers for both organizations.
The Blue Ridge Autumn Special will travel through the western North Carolina Piedmont, into the foothills and on to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Departing Spencer at 7 a.m., the train will roll through the cities of Statesville, Hickory, Morganton, Marion, Black Mountain and Swannanoa, climbing the famed “loops” of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the way. The train will pass through several tunnels and by the Andrews Geyser, a spectacular sight, before arriving in Asheville at noon.
Passengers will have nearly three hours for an outing at Biltmore Village, which was established in the late 1890s as a planned community near the entrance of the Biltmore estate.The Blue Ridge Autumn Special will leave Asheville at 3 p.m. and return to Spencer at 8 p.m.
The Virginia Autumn Special will depart Spencer at 7 a.m. Nov. 1. A second passenger pick-up will be at the Greensboro Amtrak Station at 8 a.m. for those living in the Triad.
Passing through the North Carolina cities of Thomasville, High Point and Reidsville, and the Virginia cities of Danville, Lynchburg and Oak Ridge, passengers will experience the Piedmont countryside and rolling hills of Central Virginia.
Spectacular views of the Dan, Roanoke and James rivers will also be seen as the train crosses above. The train will even pass by Schuyler, the mountain town fictionalized in the television show “The Waltons.”
At noon, the Virginia Autumn Special will arrive in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. Departing Charlottesville around 3 p.m., the train will drop off Greensboro passengers shortly before 7 p.m., and arrive back in Spencer around 8 p.m.
Tourist Class seating features the comfort and convenience of modern passenger cars. Two seats, with adjustable backs, are on each side of the center aisle with a window at each row. The cars are climate controlled and have rest rooms. The Souvenir and Cafe cars are located near the Tourist Class section. Tourist Class tickets are $160 per person.
A boxed lunch will be available for $15. Commemorative T-shirts featuring the Autumn Rails logo can be added to a ticket purchase for $20 and received as passengers arrive for the journey. T-shirts are available in sizes from adult small to XXXL. North Carolina state sales tax will also be applied to ticket purchases.
Call 704-636-2889, ext. 224 or 237 or visit www.nctrans.org for more information or to order tickets.