By David Rogers. April 18, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — If “timing is everything”, then Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) hit a “home run” on Tuesday.
Except where noted, all photographic images courtesy of Tweetsie Railroad.
Closely coinciding with the recent seasonal opening of the historic Tweetsie Railroad® theme park between Blowing Rock and Boone, BRAHM offered a “Walk With the Curator” on Tuesday (April 18), 11:00 am, at the museum, 159 Chestnut St., Blowing Rock. Participants strolled through the museum galleries with Curator Dianna Cameron and benefited from an insightful, behind-the-scenes look into the “History of Tweetsie Railroad.”
The East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad (ET&WNC) turned its first page in the High Country’s history books when it began operating in 1881, with the line extending to Boone in 1919. The narrow gauge railroad was discontinued in 1950, but was brought back to life in 1957 with the opening of the Tweetsie Railroad “Wild West” theme park, reportedly the first theme park in the Carolinas.
Among the various attractions inside the park, the thousands of visitors each year are allowed to take a ride on the train pulled by the original No. 12 steam locomotive, which turns 100 years old in 2017. So folks stepping on board a train car behind No. 12 are reliving a piece of mountain history.
The ET&WNC brought economic growth to the mountains, so Tweetsie is more than a theme park.
In explaining what spurred this particular exhibition, Cameron told Blowing Rock News, “We felt it was imperative for the Museum to have an exhibition featuring Tweetsie Railroad, because Tweetsie is so important to our region’s history. The ET&WNC brought economic growth and made it possible for communities in the mountains to connect with other parts of the country.
“Before the railroad,” added the museum curator, “it has been said that in order to get to Boone, you had to have been born here. We wanted our visitors to know that Tweetsie Railroad, in that regard, is more than just a theme park. Tweetsie Railroad preserves history through Engine #12, which is the only remaining steam engine from the ET&WNC. Tweetsie’s small team of uniquely skilled engineers maintains #12 and other similar trains throughout the country. And you can experience that living history right here in the High Country.”
More than 30 people attended the History of Tweetsie “Walk With The Curator” on Tuesday, including representatives from Tweetsie Railroad.
Cameron is no stranger to the High Country. She graduated from Appalachian State University with degrees in Arts Management and Studio Art. She accepted BRAHM’s Curator position in July 2014, after stints in curating for the Looking Glass Gallery on the App State campus, while also holding positions at the Smith Gallery and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. After graduating from Appalachian, she lived in New York while completing a curatorial internship with the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan, but soon returned to the mountains of North Carolina after identifying a passion for the respective missions of small cultural organizations, like BRAHM.
The Coffee with the Curator event is held at the Museum once a month and features a different exhibition each month on a Tuesday at 11am. The Coffee with the Curator, featuring the History of Tweetsie Railroad ® had over 30 attendees of all ages on Tuesday, April 18th.