All Aboard the Tweetsie Railroad

All Aboard the Tweetsie Railroad: A Journey Through Time in North Carolina’s Beloved Amusement Park

Welcome back to, where we celebrate the history and culture of theme parks and amusement parks worldwide! For this post, I’ll take you on a fascinating journey through the history of Tweetsie Railroad, a beloved amusement park nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. We’ll explore the origins of this iconic attraction, delve into its storied past, and learn how it has captured the hearts of generations of visitors.

Tweetsie Railroad Marquee Sign

The Origins of Tweetsie Railroad: From Locomotive to Theme Park

The story of Tweetsie Railroad begins with the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina (ET&WNC) Railroad, nicknamed “Tweetsie” due to the distinctive sound of its steam whistle. Operating between 1881 and 1950, the ET&WNC played a crucial role in the region’s economic development by transporting passengers, mail, and freight between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Tweetsie Railroad Engine

When the railroad ceased operations in 1950, a man named Grover Robbins, Jr. purchased the line’s last surviving steam engine, No. 12, with the vision of preserving a piece of Appalachian history. In 1957, Robbins opened Tweetsie Railroad as a Wild West-themed amusement park, featuring a scenic three-mile train ride pulled by the restored No. 12 locomotive.

Tweetsie Railroad Through the Years: Expanding and Evolving

Over the decades, Tweetsie Railroad has expanded and evolved, adding new attractions and experiences for visitors to enjoy. Some notable milestones in the park’s history include:

  • 1960: The addition of the “Chairlift to Miner’s Mountain,” offering guests a bird’s-eye view of the park and surrounding mountains.

Tweetsie Railroad Skyway to Miner's Mountain

  • 1962: The opening of the Tweetsie Palace Saloon, featuring live shows and entertainment.
  • 1970s: The introduction of various rides, such as the “Round-Up” and “Tilt-A-Whirl,” adding more family-friendly thrills to the park.
  • 1989: The arrival of a second steam locomotive, No. 190, known as the “Yukon Queen,” which previously operated at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle.

Tweetsie Railroad Tweetsie Palace Saloon Interior

Throughout its history, Tweetsie Railroad has remained committed to preserving the region’s heritage, offering guests a glimpse into the past through authentic Wild West attractions, live shows, and its historic steam train rides.

The People Behind Tweetsie Railroad: Dedicated Visionaries and Entertainers

The success and longevity of Tweetsie Railroad can be attributed to the dedicated visionaries and entertainers who have contributed to the park over the years:

  • Grover Robbins, Jr.: The founder of Tweetsie Railroad, Robbins was passionate about preserving the history of the ET&WNC Railroad and sharing it with future generations. His vision laid the foundation for the park that exists today.
  • Fred Kirby: A legendary cowboy entertainer, Kirby performed live shows at Tweetsie Railroad for over 20 years, becoming an integral part of the park’s identity and charm.
  • Phil Riley: As the park’s General Manager for nearly four decades, Riley played a crucial role in expanding and maintaining Tweetsie Railroad’s attractions, ensuring the park continued to delight visitors year after year.

The Legacy of Tweetsie Railroad: A Timeless Appalachian Treasure

Tweetsie Railroad has earned a special place in the hearts of countless visitors, offering a unique blend of nostalgia, entertainment, and natural beauty. The park’s commitment to preserving the region’s history, combined with its ever-evolving attractions and experiences, ensures that Tweetsie Railroad remains a timeless treasure in the Appalachian Mountains.

As the park looks to the future, we can expect it to continue honoring its rich heritage while embracing new opportunities for growth and innovation. With each passing year, Tweetsie Railroad remains a cherished destination for families and train enthusiasts alike, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the history of Tweetsie Railroad. Be sure to check back for more fascinating insights into the world of theme parks and attractions, only on!

2016 Video Visit


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