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Feb 3, 2019
Tweetsie Railroad - Wild West Theme Park Adventure is a unique micro-park in rural North Carolina. The park's origin story dates back to 1866 with the formation of the 'East Tennessee & Western North Carolina' (ET&WNC) railroad line. This line was built to serve the rural mountain communities for which road travel was difficult if not impossible with the technologies of the day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 'ET&WNC' just doesn't roll off the tongue; and so the locals dubbed the rails 'Tweetsie' after the sound of the train horns. As with most 1800s transportation methods, the upkeep of the rail lines coupled with a few natrual disasters couldn't keep pace with the advancement of modern roadways; and by the mid 1900s operations came to an end. A single train from the original railway survived intact, and after a few interim sales, was eventually purchased by a group of train enthusiasts leading to the opening of Tweetsie park in 1957.

The blue train on the top-left is a car with a 'Thomas the Tank Engine (r)' facade. A traveling Thomas provides another source of revenues/attendance for the park.

The idea to establish a theme park around the train is, quite frankly, a brilliant idea. Knowing that, in order to preserve the history of the train they would need additional source(s) of revenue was a very intelligent foresight that has allowed them to remain in business for close to 65 years so far. In terms of the park itself; it has a number of small, carnival style attractions, and a couple custom/unique attractions. While the carnival rides are nothing too special; the custom rides are quite surprising. The 'Mouse Mine Train' was totally unexpected; and the chair lift is a very clever way of coping with the terrain at this park (it's in the foothills). According to Roller Coaster Database; Tweetsie park had, in the 1960s, a steel coaster; which was decommissioned in 1998. It does not appear like the park has any imminent ambitions to build any modern roller coasters. The park has a couple of indoor dining locations which include a few shows such as a (very amateur) magic act, and a burlesque style dancing show. The food is fairly generic carnival type faire. They claim to have the worlds best pizza; which is... debatable, at best (it does have a disclaimer at least).

The disclaimer is doing a lot of heavy lifting here.

Perhaps the most important part of Tweetsie Theme Park; is that they have one of the few remaining locomotive shops in the country. In fact, a certain blue train from a certain theme park in Virginia, was shipped to Tweetsie for repairs after it caught fire a few years ago. Apart from contracting out any major fabrication, they do all work in-house from fit-to-finish. The mechanics/engineers at the locomotive shop are extremely friendly; and, apart from asking me not to mention any of their clients by name, were happy to discuss the restoration and maintenance work that they do there.

It's pretty safe to say; that certain blue train may not have been salvageable had it not been for Tweetsie locomotive shop.

At the end of the day, Tweetsie Railroad - Wild West Theme Park is an endearing park that accessible to the entire family. They do a good job of keeping the park clean and 'on-theme'. Where they lack any 'high thrill' rides of other parks, they make up for it in theming, scenery and overall experience. Put this one on your radar.

That kinda reminds me of a little train park we visited, when we were wine tasting in Sonoma:

(Sorry! I hope I didn’t derail this thread.)
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