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Quick Fact

The railroad was dubbed “Tweetsie” by mountaineers who became accustomed to the shrill “tweet” of the train’s whistles.

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“Tweetsie” dates to 1882, when the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC) began operations in Johnson City, TN. In 1919, the railroad extended tracks to Boone, NC.

The ET&WNC added passenger service, and brought lumber out of the mountains opening up a new source for agriculture in the once-remote Blue Ridge Mountains. The railroad was dubbed “Tweetsie” by mountaineers who became accustomed to the shrill “tweet” of the train’s whistles.

Locomotive No. 12, built in 1917 by Philadelphia’s Baldwin Locomotive Works, was one of thirteen narrow-gauge ET&WNC steam locomotives.

Modern roads and severe floods doomed the ET&WNC, and rail service to Boone ended in 1940. All steam locomotives were sold or scrapped, except for No. 12.

Movie star Gene Autry briefly owned No. 12 in 1955, intending to take it to California to use in films. However, Grover Robbins, Jr. of Blowing Rock acquired ownership from Autry, deciding Tweetsie needed to return to its home.

In 1956, No. 12 was fully restored and brought to Blowing Rock. Tweetsie Railroad opened in July 1957 and evolved into North Carolina’s first theme park.

Meticulously maintained and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Tweetsie’s No. 12 locomotive operates to this day, continuing to delight rail fans and tourists.

BRNHA-PMSshieldtinyThe Blue Ridge Heritage Trail is a program of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.

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More Information

Tweetsie Railroad
300 Tweetsie Railroad Lane
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
828-264-9061
tweetsie.com

North Carolina’s High Country Host
High Country Host Visitor Center
1700 Blowing Rock Road, Highway 321
Boone, NC 28607
800.438.7500
828.264.1299
highcountryhost.com
info@highcountryhost.com

Watauga County TDA & Boone TDA
815 West King Street, Suite 10
Boone, NC 28607
828-266-1345
ExploreBoone.com
wataugatda@gmail.com