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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
1,499
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
1,499
Program No. 21267 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 3 - Oct 8, 2021
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

The John C. Campbell Folk School will not be visited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Oct 10 - Oct 15, 2021
Starting at
1,499
Itinerary Note

The John C. Campbell Folk School will not be visited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Oct 17 - Oct 22, 2021
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

The John C. Campbell Folk School will not be visited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2021
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

The John C. Campbell Folk School will not be visited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Mar 20 - Mar 25, 2022
Starting at
1,749
Apr 10 - Apr 15, 2022
Starting at
1,549
May 8 - May 13, 2022
Starting at
1,749
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,549
Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2022
Starting at
1,749
Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
1,749
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Starting at
1,749
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Oct 3 - Oct 8, 2021
Starting at
2,089
Itinerary Note

The John C. Campbell Folk School will not be visited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Oct 10 - Oct 15, 2021
Starting at
1,889
Itinerary Note

The John C. Campbell Folk School will not be visited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Oct 17 - Oct 22, 2021
Starting at
2,089
Itinerary Note

The John C. Campbell Folk School will not be visited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Oct 24 - Oct 29, 2021
Starting at
2,089
Itinerary Note

The John C. Campbell Folk School will not be visited due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Mar 20 - Mar 25, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Apr 10 - Apr 15, 2022
Starting at
1,949
May 8 - May 13, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,949
Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
2,149
Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Starting at
2,149

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, crossing four bridges and passing through the pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge Tunnel.
  • Tap your toes to the music of the Cherokee and to performances by a songwriter and musician specializing in 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.
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.
Cherokee History and Culture
by Helen Dwyer
An introduction to the locale, history, way of life, and culture of the Cherokee Indians.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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. 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 and get your welcome packet containing an up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Periods in the daily 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: In the hotel conference room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
2
Chattanooga History, Chickamauga, Choo Choo
Chattanooga, TN
B,D
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Walking battlefield and standing for some presentations in the field. Standing in museum for up to an hour with benches outside.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll be joined in our hotel meeting room by a local expert for a presentation on the history of Chattanooga. Next, we will board a motor coach with our expert for a field trip through the downtown area of Chattanooga. As our expert gives us a brief history of Chattanooga we will become acquainted with the area and get a look at the local revitalization.

Lunch: Lunch will be on your own. Your group leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: During 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. Our expert historian will lead us on a field trip to Chickamauga Battlefield, where we will learn what happened September 18 – 20, 1863, and how it impacted the war.

Dinner: We will board our motor coach to travel a short distance to our dinner reservation. We will enjoy a plated dinner, with coffee, tea, water at a local restaurant.

Evening: After dinner we will visit the Choo Choo terminal on an expert led field trip that includes a presentation on the history of Track 29 and the Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal. We will then return to the hotel by motor coach.

DAY
3
Cherokee Trail of Tears, Music, Rock City & Ruby Falls
Chattanooga, TN
B,L
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chattanooga Downtown

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach. At Rock City, walking 100-foot trail; 35 stairs in sets of 4-5 stairs with handrails; uneven, some inclines. Ruby Falls entrance building is handicapped accessible; cave not wheelchair accessible. Elevator down to starting point of cave walk, approximately 4/5 of a mile one way; hard packed dirt, uneven paths.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Before the arrival of the Europeans, the land where Asheville now exists lay within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. At the hotel, we’ll sit back and enjoy a presentation given by a local expert who has collected and continues to share Cherokee legends, and who plays the Cherokee flute, rattle, and the Native American drum. Our presenter also plays the five-string banjo, guitars, and the Appalachian dulcimer. Through this presentation and performance, we’ll delve into hundreds of years of Cherokee culture and history in a short time including one of America's darkest tragedies, the Removal of tribes to the West, and into the present. After our presentation at the hotel, we will board our motorcoach and take a short drive to Lookout Mountain. The mountain was the setting for two historic battles. The so-called “last battle of the Cherokee” took place in August of 1794. The 1863 Battle of Lookout Mountain —also known as the Battle Above the Clouds — sounded the death knell of the Confederacy when Union troops prevailed. As we ponder its history, we can marvel at the panoramic view of seven states.

Lunch: Lunch will be at a restaurant located at Rock City.

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, you can 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. You may walk at your own pace and see what interests you 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: This is your time to enjoy dinner on your own or with newfound friends. Your group leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: Getting on/off the train and motorcoach. Travel from Chattanooga,TN, to Hiawassee, GA, is approximately 2 hours and 22 minutes by motorcoach.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning, we will ride on our motorcoach for the train ride to Missionary Ridge and the train museum. Chattanooga was a railroad center for nearly a century and a hub of Southeastern U.S. travel. This morning, we’ll travel 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 time for a self-led visit of the museum and learn about the role of railroads in the history and development of this region by observing railroad artifacts in an authentic setting. We will then return to the hotel by motorcoach.

Lunch: Lunch on your own. Group leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: After lunch, board your motor coach to travel from Chattanooga to Hiawassee by motorcoach. Watch a video along the way while we sit back and take in the beautiful scenery. Our motorcoach will drop us off in the small town of Murphy, NC to visit 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. The best part of this field trip is your local expert.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Evening: Our expert will continue his stories of the Cherokees and Appalachian history in a short presentation. Take time to prepare for your final train trip the next day.

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

Activity note: Motorcoach from Hiawassee, GA to Bryson City, NC approximately 1.5 hour. Train excursion 44 mile roundtrip/4.5 hours. Getting on/off the train and motorcoach.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will then ride by motorcoach 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 travel 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, after which we will return to the Bryson City Depot.

Lunch: A box lunch aboard the train will include a choice of either a pulled pork barbeque sandwich or a vegetarian wrap, coleslaw and potato chips with bottled water.

Afternoon: We will return to the depot in Bryson City for our motorcoach to Hiawassee. It's time to rest and relax after a fun-filled day on the train, with no commentary on the way home.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: After dinner, we will enjoy music played by our expert musician and instructor, who commands many different instruments. He will also present a lecture on the preservation of the folk arts of the Appalachian Mountains which ties directly to the John C Campbell Folk School. The school was founded in 1925 to nurture and preserve the folk arts of the Appalachian Mountains. It is a non-profit adult educational organization based on non-competitive learning. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a national historic district in 1983. Here students learn craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography, and writing in small classes scattered across campus. Due to the pandemic, the school is closed to outside visitor’s.

DAY
6
Program Concludes And Returns To Chattanooga
Hiawassee, GA
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board our motor coach by 8:30 am to return to Chattanooga by approximately 11:30 am. We will drop off first at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport (CHA) and then at the DoubleTree Hotel. This concludes our program. 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!






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