This extra fare excursion was very popular in 2011, so we are doing it again, with some very exciting
additions to the trip. This is an all day trip and is running on the Tuesday before the Convention begins
on Wednesday so that vendors and other people heavily involved in the Convention can still participate.
For those who participate in this trip there will be a special registration table at the Crowne Plaza hotel
on Monday night August 30 th and early Tuesday morning August 31 st .
A motor coach will leave the Hickory Metro Convention Center at 8:30 AM and travel to Boone, NC, the
eastern terminus of the narrow gauge East Tennessee & Western North Carolina/ Linville River Railway
system. The tour will officially begin at the former location of the Boone depot, with a guide pointing out
where the railroad ran and significant points along the way as the bus makes its way west. Fortunately
modern roads follow most of the right of way of the narrow gauge and some remnants still remain to be
seen and appreciated by narrow gauge railroad fans.
One of those precious remnants is the Linville Depot. This cracker box sized train station was built in
1917 as the Linville River Railway was extending tracks to Shulls Mills and then to Boone. Closed in 1936,
it became a roadside store and then was moved to become a private home. Threatened with demolition
in 2007, the ET&WNCRR Historical Society raised $20,000 in six weeks in order to save it, and move it to
become part of the Avery County Historical Society campus in nearby Newland, NC. There the building
was meticulously restored to original condition and is now open for visitors as a museum. Those on the
tour will be allowed 45 minutes to visit all of the exhibits of Avery County Historical Society.
The motor coach will then proceed on, following the railroad from Cranberry, NC to Hampton TN on
roads that are either on or near the original ROW of the narrow gauge. At Hampton, you will disembark
at the Doe River Gorge Christian Camp, which owns nearly three miles of ET&WNC right of way. Two and
a half miles of this ROW has 3’ gauge railroad tracks back in place, and they run a train up through the
scenic Doe River Gorge, arguably the best scenery along the original ET&WNC. If everything goes
according to plan, those who take this trip will ride a train up the Gorge behind a STEAM ENGINE!!! The
camp is in the final stages of making a Crown Locomotive operational, and if no unforeseen problems
develop, this group will be one of the first groups to experience the next generation of steam on the
ET&WNC. Lunch will be served by the camp, included in the trip cost (you have two menu choices, be
sure to designate which lunch you want on your form) and then the train will pull out. The train will run
to Pardee Point, a famous stop on the old railroad, then motor cars will take riders up to the bridge that
is the current end of track. A photo runby opportunity will occur as well.
From Hampton, the motor coach will again follow the route of the ET&WNC to Johnson City, TN, the
western terminus of the railroad. The next stop will be the George L. Carter Museum, which houses
several model railroads in three different scales. The one of greatest interest to 41 st NNGC attendees is
their HOn3 ET&WNC model railroad. This line has seen extensive coverage in several annual issues of
the HOn3 Annual, produced by White River Productions. This layout is one of the finest narrow gauge
railroads in the region and worth the trip over the mountain to see. Once everyone has had a chance to
see the model railroads, the motor coach will load up and travel over the Blue Ridge via Interstate to
return to Hickory by a much quicker route.
This all day extravaganza will cost only $80 per person. If the first bus sells out, a second motor coach
will be added, leaving Hickory 90 minutes later to avoid a large crowd at any of the stops. Make plans
now to participate in this extra fare event.