Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway travels along the banks of the beautiful Toccoa River between Blue Ridge and McCaysville, and it is the only mainline railroad excursion service based in Georgia. The original narrow gauge train tracks used by the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway were constructed from 1877 through 1886 by the Marietta & North Georgia Railroad, which ran from Marietta to Murphy in North Carolina. This transportation route played an important role in North Georgia’s economy by influencing the planning of local roads and stimulating the growth of several small towns into resort communities. The last regular commercial passenger train to travel over this railroad line ceased operating during the 1960’s.
In 1990, a group of local investors purchased the railroad tracks and opened the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway has vintage climate controlled and open air railcars that take passengers on an exciting 26-mile round trip excursion beginning at the historic train depot that was built in 1905 in downtown Blue Ridge. From there the train travels along the banks of the Toccoa River through historic Murphy Junction and stops at the quaint sister towns of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. McCaysville and Copperhill are really one town with two names because the town is split by the Georgia and Tennessee State Line. Passengers can debark and enjoy exploring this unique town, shopping in stores or sampling local delicacies from cafes and restaurants. The return trip to Blue Ridge takes approximately one hour.
The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway offers special trips such as the Mild or Wild Water Adventure. Passengers are dropped off at Rolling Thunder and can either float down the Toccoa River on colorful inner tubes or enjoy whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River. During December, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railways Santa Express celebrates the holidays with 20 festive and fun filled train rides. Families will enjoy hearing Christmas carols and Christmas stories during the ride and children are thrilled by a visit from Santa and his elves. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is located at 241 Depot Street in Blue Ridge and their contact phone number is (877) 413-8724.
Real estate in areas near the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Blue Ridge is a small city in Fannin County with a population of 1,210 according to the U.S. Census in 2000. The estimated median home value in Blue Ridge was $109,896 in 2007, having appreciated from $61,500 in 2000. The cost of living index in Blue Ridge is low at 79.0 and the average population density is only 450 people per square mile.
Many homes in Blue Ridge were built soon after World War II and very few of them are sold because they are occupied by long term residents. Some modern luxury homes and cabins were built in Blue Ridge during the 1980’s that are available for rent as vacation homes. Rustic vacation cabins and mountain cottages can be rented by the week or by the month through local real estate agents or directly from owners who advertise their properties in local newspapers and on the Internet.
Lodging, shopping, dining and entertainment
Many romantic bed and breakfast inns are located in Blue Ridge because it is one of the more popular tourist destinations in the North Georgia Mountains. There are also several hotels and motels, and luxurious mountain cabins can be rented through real estate agents or from private owners who advertise in local newspapers and on the Internet. Situated near Lake Blue Ridge and the Toccoa River and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge draws outdoor enthusiasts from all over the United States for fishing, kayaking, boating, tubing, swimming, hiking, camping, and even blueberry picking.
Operated by the USDA Forestry Service, the Morganton Point Recreation Area overlooks Blue Ridge Lake and it has 37 campsites, a paved boat launch, picnic tables and a shelter. The Deep Hole Campground also has 8 campsites equipped with tent pads, picnic tables and a canoe launching point. Fishing areas in the Morganton Point Recreation Area are stocked with smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and brown trout.
The entire Blue Ridge Mountain region is an antique shopper’s dream because the mountainous area is so beautiful to drive through and there are many intriguing stores to visit. Serious antique shoppers can spend several days browsing through an increasing number of unique specialty shops and antique malls. Art stores throughout the area display the work of many well known painters, potters and sculptors along with a colorful array of Appalachian folk art.
For people who enjoy canoeing, the 13.8 mile Toccoa River Canoe Trail near Blue Ridge is ideal for beginning paddlers who can traverse a few easy rapids and enjoy pastoral land containing thickets of laurel and rhododendron along the way. The Toccoa River Canoe Trail is also popular with float fishermen who seek coldwater mountain trout. The entrance to the Toccoa River Canoe Trail is located in the Blue Ridge Ranger District’s Deep Hole Recreation Area.
Horseback riding is a popular sport in Blue Ridge, especially on paths that lead along the Toccoa River. There are horseback riding and rental facilities with horse trails that wind for many miles through forests along the banks of the river. Overnight guided excursions, moonlight horseback rides, catered dinner wagon parties, and riding classes are available for all ages, sizes and riding experience levels.