Mineral Bluff, GA – The lore and romanticism of a bygone era lured people of all ages out to the Ride the Rails Festival in Mineral Bluff on September 17 and 18. Even a couple of four legged friends enjoyed the festivities. Vendors selling food, jewelry and knick knacks were set up in the parking lot by the historic Mineral Bluff train depot. Live musical entertainment was provided by Ralph Baker and the Stateline Band.
The hourly departures of the open-air rail cars were eagerly anticipated by the festival goers. I managed to squeeze in on one of the Saturday trips. Once the rail car began moving, I was in a different world. The breeze caressed my face as the sun tinctured the passing scenery of trees and meadows, on a perfectly temperate late-summer afternoon. It was a lulling, picturesque 45 minute ride that took me across and high above the Toccoa River. I couldn’t help but wonder if my ancestors had gazed upon the same gorgeous scenery as the train chugged along the tracks that time, for the most part, has forgotten due to the latter-day advances in transportation. The five mile ride was nostalgic to say the least. I can only imagine what it would be like with the tree’s leaves ablaze with Autumn’s glorious color.
A couple of models of towns along the old rail line that ran from Atlanta into Tennessee and through Mineral Bluff to Murphy, NC are on permanent display inside the depot. Plans for future models are drawn up and can be viewed at the depot as well.
This year’s festival attendance numbers have increased significantly according to Gordon Teunge, Past President and current board member of the Tri-State Model Railroaders, the festival organizers. The Ride the Rails Festival was first created to benefit the renovation of the Mineral Bluff depot. Dating from 1887, the depot is the oldest public building in Fannin County. Teunge also added that the depot was constructed entirely of local bricks from the Baugh Brick Company.
The Tri-State Model Railroaders currently has 35 members who meet the first Monday of each month at the Mineral Bluff depot. They welcome all model railroaders to attend.
The Ride the Rails Festival is held annually on the third weekend in September. See you there next year!