My second week in Bryson City and working for the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad has come to a close and it was completely full of trains!
Monday was the most fun I've had on a train in a long time... and we worked really hard too. The North Carolina state magazine OUR STATE was on board for their annual conference. They chartered a whole dinner train just for the occasion and were served a 5 star buffet of barbecue and chicken on a two hour long excursion to the Fontana Lake Trestle.
I worked with both Marketing and Food and Beverage departments to ensure that everything was set up properly and that each passenger had a great time. The even ran without a hitch. It was a long night, but it was worth it to watch the happy passengers detrain with smiles on their faces. That is the hospitality industry.
I organized these training packets by the job position; runner, server, concessions attendant and crown class attendant.
Wednesday was an action filled day. I drove with Stephanie again to towns surrounding Bryson City to do some marketing distribution. We covered the south end of the marketing area and to get there we had to travel through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The scenic parkway took us through remote and historic parts of the National Park... and gave me the taste of mountains that I was missing. Although nothing compares to the Rocky Mountains.
The Gatlinburg Area was transformed by tourism in the early 1900's by the creation of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and is now one of the areas' most visited towns. We did a little bit of exploring as well. We took the tram to Ober Gatlinburg to do the Alpine Slide and Mountain Coaster... and visited the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.
The whole area was full of people on Spring Break, and we talked about ways to get those people over the mountains to ride the GSMR
This is a view looking down the tracks at towards their maintenance vehicles. The closest vehicle is another high rail truck and the farthest is the automatic spiking machine. Spikes, large nails, hold the rail down to the crosstie. This machine automatically drops spikes down to the holes and hammers them down.
Friday and Saturday have been my favorite so far. I spent each day with a member of the Operations Department actually working with the equipment and learning how a standard gauge railroad works. On Friday I spent the day with the Engineer and Brakeman in the locomotive. I spent a day in their shoes... with the best seat in the house.
On Saturday I spent the day shadowing/working with the conductor of the train. I saw the differences in their switching procedures, boarding procedures and how they handle things like double bookings and other ticketing problems. Then I helped keep the train rolling, and at the end of the day helped them tear the train apart for a work train that was heading back to the shops.
This is a photo of the train sitting on the Fontana Lake Trestle. The train was comprised of an assortment of first class cars, and the passengers got to enjoy this first class view of the lake and the sunset.
Tuesday was an office day. In an effort to improve their customer service, the railroad is putting heavy emphasis on training this year and I worked the the Food and Beverage Department manager Lynn to choose/write training materials for their upcoming class. We watched videos, copied and wrote papers to match the theme. g
The vista from the parkway through the national park.
You can spot the tramway in the middle of this picture, 200 feet in the air.
The main street of Gatlinburg... with the Ripley's museum on the left. The whole town had a Disneyland vibe.
Thursday was a true railroad day... and by that I mean that you never know what might happen. I spent the morning with Maintenance of Way doing a track inspection. We rode in a specially modified truck called a High Rail that can run on the train tracks. We inspected defects on the rails and ensured that the trains were ready to roll the next day. After the inspection, we traveled back to the office to partake in a managers meeting. This meeting was focused around customer service again and we finalized the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad Customer Service Standards. This was eye opening as I learned what each manager of the railroad valued in their customers and their employees.
The locomotive that is now pretty close to my heart, locomotive number 1751. .
I've got one more week left here at the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad and am excited to see what it brings. I will be working for their special events department helping them put together the Easter Beagle Express!