Here's a very rare chance to ride a passenger train to Asheville! All abroad for a once-a-year excursion from central North Carolina during peak fall color on October 31, 2015. Ride in vintage rail cars through beautiful countryside and through the mountains. The all-day "Blue Ridge Autumn Special" begins at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer (near Salisbury). This trip typically sells out, so buy tickets ASAP!
The highlight of the trip is climbing the mountain ridge at Old Fort. To navigate the steep elevation gain, the railroad line twists and turns 13 miles to travel an equivalent air distance of three miles. Ride through tunnels through the Pisgah National Forest and around the famous "loops".
The excursion is presented by the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum as a fundraiser. The Blue Ridge Autumn Special will take 1,000 passengers through the western North Carolina Piedmont, into the foothills and on to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Departing Spencer at 7 AM, the train will roll through the cities of Statesville, Hickory, Morganton, Marion, Black Mountain and Swannanoa. The train will pass by the Andrews Geyser in Old Fort before arriving in Asheville at noon. You can only board at the starting point in Spencer.
You'll have about three hours to explore Biltmore Village, home to great shops, art galleries, bakeries and restaurants near the entrance to Biltmore Estate. The train will depart Asheville at 3 PM and return to Spencer at 8 PM.
There are four different seating options for the Blue Ridge Autumn Special, with specific amenities offered with each option.
- The premium dome class tickets have already sold out ($299/person).
- First Class Premium seating is available onboard a selection of beautifully-restored vintage parlor, lounge or business cars. Seating configurations vary between cars and may include table seating, club chairs and compartment seating. This seating class includes breakfast and dinner on the dining car. Amenities include morning newspaper, snacks and beverages onboard. First Class tickets are $270/person.
- Deluxe Coach passengers ride in comfort with spacious seating, adjustable seat backs, leg rests and large windows to view the scenery. This seating class includes lunch on a vintage dining car, as well as complimentary light snacks and beverages onboard. Deluxe Coach tickets are $195/person.
- Tourist Class seating features the comfort and convenience of modern Amtrak passenger cars. Two seats, with adjustable backs, are on each side of the center aisle, with a window at each row. The Souvenir and Cafe cars are located near the Tourist Class section. Tourist Class tickets are $160/person.
- Ticket handling fees of $7.50 to $10 are applied to each ticket sold. Due to a change in state law, state sales tax will also be applied to ticket purchases at a rate of 7%.
- Go to their website to buy tickets.
A gourmet boxed lunch will be available for those wishing to use their time at our destination for shopping and sightseeing. Available for $15/person, lunches include includes turkey, Swiss cheese & cucumbers with buttermilk ranch dressing on a croissant with pasta salad, cookie and a drink in a reusable souvenir tote.
Commemorative T-shirts will also be available. Featuring the unique Autumn Rails logo, these shirts can be added to the ticket purchase and received as passengers arrive for the journey. T-shirts are available in sizes from adult small to XXXL. T-shirts are $20/each for all sizes.