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Tweetsie Railroad

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"All Aboard! Casey Jones, Let's Ride!"

  Tweetsie Railroad is a small wild western theme park located on Highway 3-21 between the towns of Boone & Blowing Rock, NC. The park was opened on July 4th, 1957, and became North Carolina's first theme park. 

                                                                Brief Historical Context                           

               The Park's history goes all the way back to 1866, with the founding of the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina (ET&WNC) Railroad. The line, which began construction in 1868 and completed by 1882 originally ran between Johnson City, TN and Cranberry NC, as a means to excavate Iron Ore from the mines there. In 1919, the line was expanded to Boone, NC, the line now totaling 66 miles from end to end. In 1940, heavy rainstorms caused a flood that washed out portions of track that connected into Boone, and due to the high cost of materials, rebuilding that portion of the right of way was deemed unfeasible, so the Railroad tore up that portion of the track. Unfortunately, that was the start of the downfall for the little railroad, and by October of 1950, the ET&WNC had shut down it's narrow gauge operations. Luckily, the little train would live, as locomotive #12 a 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler built by Baldwin in February of 1917, and 2 pieces of rolling stock (Combine Car 15 and Excursion Car #11) were saved from the scrap heat, and for a brief time, operated on a small tourist railroad called the “Shenandoah Central.” However, that railroad also “bit the dust” when Hurricane Hazel came in, wiping the little railroad off the map. However, #12 was soon bought by a couple of folks who brought her back home to North Carolina, where she was lovingly restored and put back into service, and still does to this day.                   

                                                                      LEGO Model                                  

               The LEGO version of this iconic theme park train includes a LEGO model of ex-ET&WNC #12, which has been built to LEGO Standard Gauge instead of LEGO Narrow Gauge, as there are no proper straight sections. The Locomotive has been built to reflect the prototype as accurately as possible. Behind it is a small tender, which carries a simulated coal load. Next in line are 5 open-air passenger cars, which give the passengers unmatched views of the scenery and action. The Rear passenger car also includes an observation platform for the conductor. 

  But the passengers aren't the only ones in for the ride. Also along for the trip are Tweetsie's cowboys. 2 of them happen to be the dumbest train robbers in the Blue Ridge Mountains: The Flaming Hot Sauce Bandits, Texas Pete and Tabasco. Luckily, the Sheriff and Deputy are also on-board to keep them in check. And then, hiding among the woods are 2 members of the infamous “Tweetsie Tribe”, a band of Native American “Indians” who have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to ambush Fort Boone, which is just up the line. The other minifigures included are Marshall Josie, alongside her trusty steed, the engineer, the fireman, and the conductor.  

                                           Why I Think This would be a Good LEGO Set

  While Tweetsie Railroad isn't exactly a household name, the entire point of LEGO Ideas is to submit ideas that mean a lot to you as a person, and Tweetsie Railroad means a lot to me. I grew up going to Tweetsie Railroad multiple times a year, and I still do! I believe that the set's lovable and diverse cast of minifigures, and the colorful, yet realistic train would make it a big seller should LEGO decide to produce it.

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