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