Well my first week of work at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad is finished, and what a week it was. First of all, this town is so quiet and so amazing. Everybody knows everything and everyone is so hospitable. The food is good, and the scenery is even better. On Tuesday I took a tour of the railroad and got familiar with the grounds and the property. We toured the depot facility in Bryson City and I met the people that run the ticket office, the Food and Beverage Department and learned a lot about their routines and their procedures. Right off the bat it seemed like a well run, tight ship. Then we hit the road and toured their shop facility and end of the line at Dillsboro. That little town was pretty much asleep when we arrived, but I got to meet all of the people that keep these old trains running and talk shop about the mechanics of steam locomotives and their historic coaches.
On Wednesday I spent the day exploring the surrounding towns with their Marketing Assistant Stephanie. Our goal was to distribute marketing materials to the nearby visitor centers, shops, hotels and attractions. I learned a lot about the Smoky Mountains and saw a lot of the backroads as well as the tourist attractions that keep this area alive. I learned a lot about marketing to the locals with a railroad, because you can't just rely on tourist traffic, you have to be a part of the community. It was a lot of fun to see the small towns that make up this area of North Carolina. I will be doing this every Wednesday while I'm here.
Finally, the train days came. I had Thursday off and I took that as preparation for the busy days that were ahead. On Friday I had the incredible opportunity to work in the "Conductors Cafe" and get hands on with their food service for the coach and crown class passengers. I learned how they serve their famous pulled pork, their drink service and how they keep their extremely long passenger coaches and cafe so clean. It was a fairly slow day passenger wise so I was able to explore the train a little bit and get to know some of the train crew.
Best view on the train... from the locomotive!
Here is the concession car that I spent the day in on Friday... the Conductor's Cafe.
At the end of the day, they had a surprise for me that really was an awesome end to the week. I was able to take a cab ride on the locomotive while they took a flat car full of ties for their track crew to the other end of the line at the Outdoor Center in the Nantahala Gorge. I had an awesome time with the guys and did some real railroading for a couple of hours.
Finally, today I worked in the Crown Class Service... which is basically their deluxe cars. I worked with the attendant, Nancy, and she showed me how she does the attendant service. Everything from refills on drinks to narration and keeping the guests happy. That is two classes of service down and I will be working their first class service on Monday during a charter for the State Magazine. This railroad offers 1st class, four course meal service and I have heard so much about it. I am thrilled to get to see it in action. Check out the photos of their first class cars... they are all spectacular!
Here is the Crescent Car... the middle class of the train. Most comfy seats on the whole railroad!