Sunday, May 25, 2008

Deus Ex Machina

For years Tweetsie Railroad has been in imminent danger of closing. There have been whispers of the current season being the last even since I worked there in 00/01. This has been mainly caused by the lease agreement Tweetsie had with the owners of the land. Tweetsie doesn't actually own any land. They leased the land 55 years ago for $1 a year for 50 years. Minority owners of the land have threatened all of those other years to increase the rent, which is reasonable since prime land in the mountains is worth far more than $1, of course. The problem is that Tweetsie runs on a very tight budget. When I worked there, it took $200 worth of coal to run the train around the track one time. And that's just tickets are already pricey, and there isn't extra money.

All this has been personally distressing, because I really want my future child to be able to experience the history combined with silliness that is Tweetsie.

Catawba county has bailed them out. They are shelling out $3.15 million to become part owners in the land, which has allowed Tweetsie to extend the $1 a year lease arrangement until 2065. Which is definitely long enough for me to take a child of mine there. Awesome! As part of the agreement, Tweetsie has agreed to spend $13 million (I'm not sure where that money is supposed to come from) over the next 20 years on improvements and expansions to the park. They will also build a portion of the Middle Fork Greenway across its property for public use. This will eventually create a bike and pedestrian path between Blowing Rock and Boone.

I think lots of business owners in Boone are breathing a sigh of relief. Tweetsie Railroad, as silly as it is, brings lots and lots of tourist dollars to the area, and people really count on that. Especially if the world gets too hot for Boone to have ski slopes.

1 comment:

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

Thanks for the tidbit, I have yet to go there since moving to Boone. I'm waiting for my sister to finally bring my nephew for a visit so that I have an excuse!