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21267
Tennessee

The Great Smokies: Trains, Cherokee and Appalachian Culture

Ride historic rails across scenic mountains as you learn about Appalachian culture, Cherokee heritage, traditional music and regional cuisine.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21267RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,549
Tennessee

The Great Smokies: Trains, Cherokee and Appalachian Culture

Ride historic rails across scenic mountains as you learn about Appalachian culture, Cherokee heritage, traditional music and regional cuisine.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,549
Length
6 days
Rating (5)
Starts at
1,549
Program No. 21267RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,549
Sep 18 - Sep 23, 2022
Starting at
1,749
Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2022
Starting at
1,749
Oct 9 - Oct 14, 2022
Starting at
1,549
Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
1,749
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Starting at
1,749
Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
1,999
Apr 9 - Apr 14, 2023
Starting at
1,799
May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
1,999
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
1,999
Oct 1 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
1,999
Oct 8 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Oct 15 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
1,999
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,949
Sep 18 - Sep 23, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Oct 9 - Oct 14, 2022
Starting at
1,949
Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
2,449
Apr 9 - Apr 14, 2023
Starting at
2,249
May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
2,449
Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
2,249
Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
2,449
Oct 1 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
2,449
Oct 8 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
2,249
Oct 15 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
2,449

At a Glance

Capture scenic views and learn about Appalachian culture aboard two trains in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. Hear stories from the area’s long history and enjoy a delightful encounter with Great Smokies heritage as presented by a musician performing tunes of southern Appalachia. Learn about Cherokee Indian life in the “enchanted land” centuries ago during evening lectures and a special visit from an expert on Cherokee history and song.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Some walking and standing on field trips. Diesel engine train and coach transfers.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Ride the original railroad line in Chattanooga, across four bridges and through the pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge Tunnel.
  • Tap your toes to the music of the Cherokee and to performances of southern Appalachian music.
  • Travel along the Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers and over the Fontana Bridge, a trellis bridge spanning 780 feet.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Lee Knight
Raised in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, Lee is a folk singer, story teller and outdoor leader, performing at concerts, workshops, festivals and schools. He shares his knowledge of the natural world leading hikes, canoe trips and guiding whitewater rafts. Lee has collected and shares Cherokee legends and plays the Cherokee flute and rattle, as well as the Native American drum. He also plays the five-string banjo, guitars and the Appalachian dulcimer.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Lee Knight
Lee Knight View biography
Raised in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, Lee is a folk singer, story teller and outdoor leader, performing at concerts, workshops, festivals and schools. He shares his knowledge of the natural world leading hikes, canoe trips and guiding whitewater rafts. Lee has collected and shares Cherokee legends and plays the Cherokee flute and rattle, as well as the Native American drum. He also plays the five-string banjo, guitars and the Appalachian dulcimer.
Profile Image of Justin Strickland
Justin Strickland View biography
Justin Strickland has been fascinated by trains his entire life. His first "railroad" job was with the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway at the age of 15, where he eventually became a conductor. Justin has also worked with the Southeastern Railway Museum, Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. He authored the only book dedicated to the Terminal Station in Chattanooga and has been interviewed for the railroad documentary "Tracing the Tracks."
Profile Image of Maury Nicely
Maury Nicely View biography
Maury Nicely is a lawyer and historian in Chattanooga, Tenn., and author of the “Chattanooga Walking Tour & Historic Guide” and the “East Tennessee Walking Tour & Historic Guide.” Maury has served on the boards of Chattanooga History Center and Cornerstones, Inc., Chattanooga's historic preservation organization.
Profile Image of Carol Burton
Carol Burton View biography
Carol Burton attended Dalton State College, where she began her 16 years as a Road Scholar coordinator with its Center for Educational Adventure. Married to her childhood sweetheart, she grew up in Hampton, Va., and moved to Georgia in 1970. Carol said she was born with a love for animals and volunteers with her local humane society.
Profile Image of Anthony Hodges
Anthony Hodges View biography
Dr. Anthony Hodges attended the University of Alabama, graduated from University of Tennessee/Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in Memphis with a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) degree in 1981. He recently retired from dentistry after 35 years. He became interested in early American and Civil War history as a child thanks to family oral history and began collecting Civil War artifacts as a boy. He served as a National Park Service living history interpreter for more than 30 years.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Chattanooga Landmarks (TN): Exploring the History of the Scenic City (The History Press) [Paperback]
by Jennifer Crutchfield
Chattanooga's history and heritage are embodied in the historical sites, structures and groundbreaking feats of engineering that have defined the city from its beginning. Many of the Scenic City's most important landmarks are still preserved. Yet with so many fascinating historic sites and storied destinations, seeing them all is no easy task. Fortunately, Chattanooga Landmarks offers a helpful survey of the most historically significant sites in the city and the surrounding area. Join Chattanooga local Jennifer Crutchfield as she guides you through the city's historic wonders, both natural and man-made. From the top of Lookout Mountain down to the banks of the Tennessee River and through downtown, Chattanooga Landmarks covers the breadth of the historic sites that make this Tennessee city a landmark all its own.
Hidden History of Chattanooga
by Alexandra Walker Clark
The enigmatic hills and woodlands of the Chattanooga area are a sanctuary of history, and the hometown of author Alexandra Walker Clark. Clark has chronicled the history of her hometown for the Chattanooga Times and the Chattanooga History Journal, and in this collection she combines some of her favorite stories to take readers behind the scenes for a fascinating look into the unique history and culture of the region. Absorb the city's rich ethnic diversity, travel down to the hallowed battlefields of Chickamauga and Fort Oglethorpe and grasp the compelling legacy of the Cherokee. This and so much more lies ahead in Hidden History of Chattanooga.
Cherokee History and Culture
by Helen Dwyer
An introduction to the locale, history, way of life, and culture of the Cherokee Indians.
The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears
by Theda Perdue, Michael Green
In the early nineteenth century, the U.S. government shifted its policy from trying to assimilate American Indians to relocating them, and proceeded to forcibly drive seventeen thousand Cherokees from their homelands. This journey of exile became known as the Trail of Tears. Historians Perdue and Green reveal the government?s betrayals and the divisions within the Cherokee Nation, follow the exiles along the Trail of Tears, and chronicle the hardships found in the West. In its trauma and tragedy, the Cherokee diaspora has come to represent the irreparable injustice done to Native Americans in the name of nation building?and in their determined survival, it represents the resilience of the Native American spirit.
African Americans of Chattanooga: A History of Unsung Heroes (Brief History)
by Rita Lorraine Hubbard
Beginning in 1541 with Hernando De Soto's Spanish expedition for gold, African Americans have held a prominent place in Chattanooga's history. Author Rita Lorraine Hubbard chronicles the ways African Americans have shaped Chattanooga, and presents inspirational achievements that have gone largely unheralded over the years. Did you know that Chattanooga is: • the hometown of the first African American appointed to lead counsel on a Supreme Court case • the home of the nation's oldest student, who learned to read at age 116 • the home of the African American blacksmith who put shackles on the "Andrew's Raiders" after the Great Locomotive Chase • the site of one of the first integrated police departments in the South… and so much more!
Chattanooga's Terminal Station (TN)
by Justin W. Strickland
Long before Glenn Miller made the world-famous "Chattanooga Choo Choo" an American icon, Chattanooga was already a bustling railroad community. By the beginning of the 20th century, passenger trains overwhelmed Chattanooga's two railroad depots and a larger station was needed. The solution was Terminal Station, which rivaled most Southern depots in size, expense, and aesthetic beauty. Providing transportation to cities throughout the country, the terminal made its mark as the gateway for rail from the agricultural south to the industrial north. Following its closure, the terminal was reopened as a renowned hotel and entertainment complex in 1973, becoming one of Chattanooga's many exciting attractions. Images of Rail: Chattanooga's Terminal Station follows the history of this depot in both stories and photographs.
The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture, and Enlightenment to America
by Jeff Biggers
Few places in the United States confound and fascinate Americans like Appalachia, yet no other area has been so markedly mischaracterized by the mass media. Stereotypes of hillbillies and rednecks repeatedly appear in representations of the region, but few, if any, of its many heroes, visionaries, or innovators are ever referenced. Make no mistake, they are legion: from Anne Royall, America's first female muckraker, to Sequoyah, a Cherokee mountaineer who invented the first syllabary in modern times, and international divas Nina Simone and Bessie Smith, as well as writers Cormac McCarthy, Edward Abbey, and Nobel Laureate Pearl S. Buck, Appalachia has contributed mightily to American culture — and politics. Not only did eastern Tennessee boast the country's first antislavery newspaper, Appalachians also established the first District of Washington as a bold counterpoint to British rule. With humor, intelligence, and clarity, Jeff Biggers reminds us how Appalachians have defined and shaped the United States we know today.
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6 days
5 nights
11 meals
5 B 2 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Chattanooga, TN
D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00-5:00 p.m. After checking in and receiving your key at the front desk, please go to the conference room located near the lobby area to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Cherokee Trail of Tears, Chickamauga, Choo Choo
Chattanooga, TN
B,D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles, approximately 2 hours riding time. Walking about 3/4 mile, standing up to an hour at a time during field trips; pavement, grass, dirt, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Before the arrival of the Europeans, the land where Asheville now exists lay within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. We will be joined by a local expert for a presentation on Cherokee legends and a performance. Our expert plays the Cherokee flute, rattle, the Native American drum, the five-string banjo, guitars, and the Appalachian dulcimer. Through this presentation and performance, we’ll delve into centuries of Cherokee history and culture that will address one of America’s darkest tragedies. We’ll learn about the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that forced tribal people out of their homes to lands in the West and on into the present.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: We will board a motorcoach with our historian for a field trip to Chickamauga Battlefield, where we’ll learn what happened September 18-20, 1863, and how it impacted the Civil War. Chattanooga was a key rail center and gateway to the heart of the Confederacy. The Battle of Chickamauga was fought for this prize and is essential to understanding Chattanooga’s history. Only the Battle of Gettysburg was more lethal but, unlike that notorious conflict, Chickamauga was a huge Union defeat.

Dinner: We will ride a short distance to a popular local restaurant.

Evening: For our next expert-led field trip, we’ll explore Terminal Station — better known as the home of the Chattanooga Choo Choo — that includes a presentation on the history of renowned Track 29. Terminal Station is now part of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel. We’ll then ride back to our hotel.

DAY
3
Chattanooga History, Rock City & Ruby Falls
Chattanooga, TN
B,L
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles, approximately 3/4 hour riding time. At Rock City, walking 100-foot trail; 35 stairs in sets of 4-5 stairs with handrails; uneven, inclines. Ruby Falls building entrance handicapped accessible, cave not wheelchair accessible. Elevator down to starting point of cave walk, approximately 4/5 of a mile each way; hard packed dirt, uneven paths, no seating. Participants must be able to remain comfortably on their feet up to 90 minutes.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles, approximately 3/4 hour riding time. At Rock City, walking 100-foot trail; 35 stairs in sets of 4-5 stairs with handrails; uneven, inclines. Ruby Falls building entrance handicapped accessible, cave not wheelchair accessible. Elevator down to starting point of cave walk, approximately 4/5 of a mile each way; hard packed dirt, uneven paths, no seating. Participants must be able to remain comfortably on their feet up to 90 minutes.

Lunch: At a Rock City restaurant.

Afternoon: More than 200 million years of weathering have produced the massive, unusually shaped sandstone boulders in what is now known as Rock City, situated at 1,700 feet above sea level atop Lookout Mountain. During this self-directed exploration, we will be able to traverse a walking trail more than 4,000 feet long that features not only these ancient rock formations but caves and gardens with more than 400 species of native plants. We will walk at our own pace and see what interests each of us most. There are places along the trail to sit as well as easy access back to the starting point. Our Group Leader will be available to answer any questions about trail logistics. We’ll then hop back aboard the motorcoach for a short drive on the mountain top to Ruby Falls, where we will go on a walking exploration with a local expert. We’ll learn how this extraordinary geological wonder was discovered in 1928 by a team of excavators who came across it 1,120 feet beneath the surface. The waterfall is 145 feet high, falling through a cavern created by the same geological forces as Rock City and Lookout Mountain itself. When they say don’t drink the water, they mean it! The water in Ruby Falls contains high concentrations of magnesium.

Dinner: On your own to have what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. This is an opportunity to enjoy dinner on your own or with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Missionary Ridge Train Turnaround, Hiawassee Murphy Museum
Hiawassee, GA
B,D
The Ridges Hotel & Marina

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 120 miles, approximately 3 hours riding time. Getting on/off a train.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and ride to the Missionary Ridge train station for our field trip by train to Missionary Ridge and the train museum there. Chattanooga was a railroad center for nearly a century and a hub of Southeastern U.S. travel. We’ll board the train and ride on one of the original rail lines into the city via either steam or vintage diesel locomotive. Along the way, we will witness two unique methods of turning a train around. We will also ride through Missionary Ridge Tunnel, notable for its uniqueness as a horseshoe tunnel, in which the top of the tunnel is wider than the bottom. After our ride, we will go backstage at the East Chattanooga Back Shop where the conductor will take you us through the process of restoring trains. After the train ride, we’ll have some time for independent exploration of the museum to learn about the role of railroads in the history and development of this region and see railroad artifacts in an authentic setting. We will then ride back into town at hop off at the hotel, which is in an area with a number of restaurants.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like. There are lunch spots around the hotel.

Afternoon: Next, we will reboard the motorcoach and ride to Hiawassee, Georgia. Along the way, we’ll see a video and enjoy the beautiful scenery. We’ll stop in the small town of Murphy, North Carolina, for a field trip to the Cherokee County Museum with displays of the rich history of Native American and pioneer settlers in the far-western corner of the state. The museum is housed in the historic Carnegie Library. We will check in to our hotel upon arrival in Hiawassee.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We’ll have a delightful evening of musical entertainment at the hotel. Guest musicians will perform a wide range of music including folk, bluegrass, gospel, and country.

DAY
5
Bryson City Train Field Trip
Hiawassee, GA
B,L,D
The Ridges Hotel & Marina

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 120 miles throughout the day, approximately 3 hours riding time. Getting on/off a train; riding about 44 miles, approximately 4.5 hours riding time. Walking from parking lot to motorcoach.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach and ride to Bryson City, where we will board a train for a scenic rail journey from the historic depot through the beautiful countryside of Western North Carolina. As we ride along the Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers, we will enjoy bluegrass performances from local musicians with an occasional Appalachian story. The Fontana Bridge, a trellis bridge spanning 780 feet and standing 100 feet above the water, will bring us across Fontana Lake and into the beautiful Nantahala Gorge. Upon arrival at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, we can relax during our one-hour layover, then begin our return back to the Bryson City Depot.

Lunch: Aboard the train, we’ll have box lunches.

Afternoon: We will have a relaxed return to the depot in Bryson City. We’ll then reboard our motorcoach and ride back to Hiawassee.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We’ll gather with an expert musician who plays many different instruments and enjoy more of his music. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes, Return To Chattanooga
Hiawassee, GA
B

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach by 8:30 a.m.; driving about 110 miles, approximately 2.5 hours riding time. Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board our motor coach by 8:30 a.m. with expected arrival back in Chattanooga by approximately 11:30 a.m. We will drop off first at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA) and then at the DoubleTree Hotel. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.