Have you ever wanted to get day-drunk on a train? Yeah, I thought so. If you are anything like me, the very thought of drinking on a train sounds like a excellent way to spend any day, right? Regardless, if you want to drink or not, riding on an old train is pretty amazing as is. But what if I told you that you really could do both on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad?
The Moonshine Car
The “Shine and Dine” experience begins in a renovated First Class train fleet car, called The Carolina Shine. The interior design features copper lined walls filled with the history of moonshining in North Carolina. While taking in the view of the countryside you will learn about the proud tradition that the Appalachians established when bootlegging was an “acceptable” way of life. You will also learn about Swain County’s very own Major Redmond, the most infamous mountain moonshine outlaw of the 19th century.
Next, passengers are fed pulled pork barbeque, rubbed with Cajun spices and served with a southern sweet cornbread muffin, coleslaw, and cinnamon apples.
While you are eating, there is live music (usually one person playing the banjo or guitar). You are probably going to hear Wagon Wheel and Rocky Top or both…probably both.
After you have a little food in the belly, then comes the good stuff. You are treated to a sample tasting of NASCAR legend, Junior Johnsons, Midnight Moon family of spirits. This features Apple Pie, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Cranberry and Strawberry moonshine. I went through these pretty fast and felt fairly warm and buzzed. If you are like me, and the samples are still not enough, there’s plenty of Moonshine infused cocktails like the Copper Cola or Moonshiner’s Mimosa available for purchase after the tasting. All are delicious and I suggests that you try a few.
Passengers will also receive their very own Carolina Shine mason drinking jar, a Midnight Moon official mason jar shot glass, and a souvenir Great Smoky Mountain Railroad tote bag.
Before you go on the train or after you get off, you have to be sure to see the Smoky Mountain Trains Museum (included with your ticket) with its collection of over 7,000 Lionel engines. The kids tend to love it… so do drunk 36 year old men.
Nantahala Gorge Excursion
Ride along the rushing Nantahala River. This 4.5-hour route carries you 44 miles to the Nantahala Gorge and back. The historic Trellis Bridge takes you across Fontana Lake. You arrive at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) for a one-hour layover on the river. If you enjoy whitewater rafting, you can take their Raft and Rail combination trip.
Tuckasegee River Excursion
Ride through quiet countryside in Jackson County. This four hour excursion travels 32 miles round-trip to Dillsboro and back to Bryson City. Pass by the movie set of The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and stop in Dillsboro for a 1.5-hour layover to explore the charming town with an impressive collection of galleries.
Other Train Seating Options
- Most excursions have a full service concession car with snacks and lunch items, beverages and alcoholic drinks for purchase. Or pick up snacks or lunch at their cafe at the Depot before your ride. First Class includes a meal.
- Standard Seating (Coach Class) is in restored vintage coaches that feature windows that open for fresh-air viewing, ceiling fans and heat for cooler days.
- Open Air Gondolas are created from retired baggage and flatbed cars, with long padded outward-facing seats for the panoramic views.
- In Crown Class, relax in restored coaches dating from 1925 with larger windows for better viewing and climate control. Get a souvenir tumbler to fill with a fountain soda.
- The First Class riding experience. Travel in comfort and style in 1940s-era bar, lounge and dinner cars. Receive a lunch served by the car’s private attendant, a souvenir tumbler with a fountain soda and an embroidered tote bag gift. First Class cars are climate controlled and full bar service is available.
Pricing for the Moonshine Car
*note: they just re-introduced the Steam Engine and I did not get a chance to take a ride on that one.*
|Locomotive||Adult (21+)||Child (2-12)||Infant (0-23 Months)|
|Diesel||$99.00 ($105.00 October)||N/A||N/A|
|Steam||$110.00 ($116.00 October)||N/A||N/A|