Autos & Vehicles

Great Smoky Mountains 1702: Winter in the Smokies

As soon as Christmas was over, former United States Army S160 1702 was hard at work pulling passengers along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. For the third year in a row, her winter operations would consist of one Tuckasegee River excursion each day between Christmas and New Years, ending with two Polar Express trips on the night of New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately for most of this week the weather would be poor, but luckily the skies cleared up just enough on Saturday the 29th for me to make my final chase of 2018. The heavy rainfall of the preceding days combined with snowmelt from the Smokies combined to make the streams & rivers in the area flow much higher & faster than usual – if you look close at 10:10 you can see that part of Old River Rd is completely under water! This chase also gave me a chance to test out my new Magnus VT-4000 tripod, as my previous one literally fell apart after chasing the Rambler last week, which is why pretty much every shot is a pan.

2018 certainly had its ups and downs, Amtrak’s decision to end excursions casting a dark cloud over the mainline steam operators all year, but there are some big and great things on the horizon for 2019. With the Golden Spike celebrations, potentially 3 mallets under steam, 576 finally leaving Centennial Park after 65 years, the reconnection of Cass and Durbin, and more, I think its safe to say we have a good year ahead of us. I wish you all a Happy New Year!

17 thoughts on “Great Smoky Mountains 1702: Winter in the Smokies”

  1. Happy New Year!!! Sorry it’s been a while but still. I’m at North Carolina right now and I was at Fun Factory when this video was recorded on the 29th! I wish I could have ridden behind it (or better yet, in it) Does 1702 operate on the 2nd? Just asking. Also, what’s that thing around 1702’s headlamp? Just curious about that too. Also, Big Boy 4014 is going to be completed by May 10, 2019, celebrating 150 years of the Transcontinental Railroad! That would be something for me to see!

  2. Jingle bells, steamboat whistle, get out of the way, if you dont it is sure that you’ll die today

    1. Thanks, and Happy New Year! I hope you can make it, the Smokies are spectacular enough on their own and the sound of 1702’s whistle echoing through the Nantahala Gorge is consistently one of my favorite experiences chasing steam.

  3. Sadly, NS is getting rid of the leasers so we won’t have those for most of 2019.

    1. The Carolinian Railfan – It is with the impending return of ex. Chesapeake and Ohio 1309 and union pacific 4014

  4. What was the Gorge like? That was the main reason I didn’t go on this chase. Reports were saying to stay away from it, and I would’ve had to pass through it in order to chase this train. That’s why I didn’t go.

    1. I never went to the gorge, I came in from TN via I-40 and went home over Newfound Gap on US-441. If the Nantahala was acting anything like the Tuckasegee was then avoiding the gorge was probably a good idea.

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