Mo & Terry Smedley


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Smoky Mountain Rail Tour
June, 2009

Part III - Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad, Southern Belle Riverboat

The "ChooChoo" sign above the hotel can be seen for quite a distance at night. A large collection of passenger cars, retrofitted for hotel room service, is parked on some of the original track at the station.  Between the "hotel cars", the grounds are extensively landscaped.    
Some stitched panorama shots of the hotel grounds.   Our journey today took us through the site of the largest and deadliest battle in the West.  This is the site of Chickamauga and Snodgrass Hill  Our tour leader, Carl Fowler, gave us a brief history lesson at the preserved battlefield site. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad runs from Blue Ridge, GA to Copperhill, TN.
The rail line runs along the Ocoee River, which was heavily used for recreation today.  Kayaks, rafts, and innertubes were in abundance on this very warm day. A homeowner opposite the tracks had a sense of humor. Several open air cars were available for the ride. After an hour ride from Blue Ridge, the train parks right behind the IGA grocery store in "downtown" Copperhill.
    Spotted at eye level in Copperhill.  Seems like it ought to meet all codes and standard practices (it's low voltage telephone wires, but still....) The Georgia-Tennessee border runs right through the twin towns of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN.  Mo can't decide which state to be in.
I guess Assault Rifles are a popular item here.  Is that banjo music I hear (and Ned Beatty that I see)?   I also thought it was interesting that you can buy your always-handy AK47 at the same store that fixes your computer. Blue Ridge has its own version of Jack Durney's "Home Town Hoquiam".  And the manager's office is in a boxcar.    
Our dinner tonight was on the Southern Belle riverboat, complete with live entertainment in the dining room. A beautiful day on the Tennessee River, downstream from Chattanooga.  That's Lookout Mountain (site of Rock City, the Incline Railway, and Ruby Falls) in the distance. As the sun goes down, we cruise by the rejuvenated Chattanooga waterfront.  That's Mo and fellow tour member Gail Solomon on the upper deck of the Southern Belle.  We toured with Gail in 2007 on our trip to Northern Ontario. The famous Delta Queen sternwheeler is moored in Chattanooga.  The ship has been temporarily removed from revenue service due to a complex political battle over safety regulations and union hiring policies on this magnificent (and wildly popular) wooden ship.
This is the new Tennessee Aquarium on the Chattanooga waterfront.