|Ghost Train ready to take in passengers / Photo: +Maricris G|
The Ghost Train in Tweetsie Railroad is probably one of High Country's best kept secrets during Halloween season. But as you know, best ones don't stay secret for too long. This is why we found ourselves driving almost 2 hours from Charlotte to discover what makes the Ghost Train so popular.
"You can measure the popularity of an attraction by how they affect the area around them. Out of towners flock to this location and congregate in one hot spot. Hotels are an easy indication. They're all fully booked. And majority of these visitors, you'll see at Tweetsie. "
The Ghostly but not Ghastly Ride
Going to the park for the first time, we have no clue what to expect. Will it be scary? Which car do we board to get maximum experience, or better yet, less scare? So, many questions. And valid ones to say the least. When you hear the word "Ghost", it usually awakens emotion of fear. Ghost + Halloween, hello fear! But as we later discovered, there is nothing to fear at the ride at all - except for one thing - the people next to you who are easily freaked out and almost peed their pants during the train ride. Now, that's scary!
Overall, our first - and last ride - as I'll explain why later, was fun, captivating and offered mild thrills along the way that made people kept coming back for more! In a nutshell, it isn't scary at all. Rather it was fun and entertaining. Even a young child can handle it. This makes the Ghost train such a popular family attraction. And the perk of being able to ride a vintage steam locomotive-powered train? Priceless.
"Tweetsie Railroad is proud to operate two vintage steam locomotives: No. 12 "Tweetsie" and No. 190 the "Yukon Queen." Both locomotives are coal-fired narrow-gauge engines, built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. No. 12 was completed in 1917, and No. 190 in 1943. The "Yukon Queen" from Alaska's White Pass & Yukon Railway was acquired in 1960.
Locomotive No. 12 is the last surviving narrow-gauge steam locomotive of the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC), which ran train service from Johnson City, Tennessee to Boone, North Carolina from 1919 to 1940. When the Tweetsie Railroad theme park opened with its first steam locomotive ride (one mile to a picnic area and back) in 1957, this was its sole locomotive.
When you visit Tweetsie Railroad during the operating season for a steam locomotive ride, the train will be pulled by one of these historic engines." - Tweetsie RR
Notable observations to make your first visit unforgettable:
- Arrive early
- Layer up. Crisp mountain air and open window train ride with mild thrills can send chills up your spine.
- Board car number 3. It seem to be the most popular and a crowd favorite.
- Wear a scarf even if you hate it. It doubles as a smoke mask. You'll soon find out why.
- Sit on an aisle seat if you're a scaredy cat.
- Get in line as soon as you disembark from the train if you want to ride again. Lines are ALWAYS terribly long. Reason we only rode once.
- Photo spot to get a good picture of the train is located on top of the hill just above the tracks near where train stops.
- Check the rest of the other attractions in the park. Boneyard is a must for the little wee ones.
- Walk around the park and add steps to your fitness tracker.
- You won't go hungry. Food and drink is available at the park.
A Family Attraction with A Piece of History
Either you are a train enthusiast or not, the Ghost Train is a worthwhile option to experience with the entire family. Not only for the thrills but more so, with the idea that you are riding a piece of history long gone. Something that your child will never, in their generation ever see again but at least get to experience it - only at the Ghost Train at Tweetsie Railroad.
The theme park also makes for a great impromptu out of town weekend fun option for the whole family, especially those with bored little ones and in close proximity to the theme park. It's conveniently located in Blowing Rock and approximately 14 mins from the heart of downtown Boone and about a hop away from the border.
Take the Last Ride this Weekend
Ghost train will run its last ride this weekend, Saturday night, October 30 at 7:30 PM. Be there and end Halloween season with a whole lot of chugga chugga choo choo!
Disclaimer: Thanks to Tweetsie Railroad who provided complimentary tickets/ Media pass in order for me to facilitate this story for our Fall Family Travel destination series.