Lookout Mountain played an important part in the American Civil War, as it was where the Union forces suffered one of their greatest defeats. So, by the late 19th century, Lookout Mountain had become a popular attraction for tourists, but it took a long time to ascend - horse drawn buggies were the quickest option, and they took about four hours.
Relaxing on board one of Amtrak's comfortable long-distance trains is one of the best ways to discover the USA, a vast country with great, diverse cities and ever-changing landscapes.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad is a heritage railway company that was established in 1961. Unusually for a heritage railway, it was not formed to preserve a particular route or railway line from closing down. Initially it was designed to be a museum, preserving whatever railway equipment was donated to them.
First taking passengers to the summit in 1869, the Mount Washington Cog Railway in New England is the oldest mountain railway in the world. The journey to the top of the 6,288-feet Mount Washington still runs with its vintage steam engines and replica coaches, though on occasion the three mile trip is made with a bio-diesel locomotive. There is a gift shop, a restaurant and a fascinating museum all on site.
Durango & Silverton
Despite being over 130 years old, the 3ft Narrow-Gauge Railroad Durango and Silverton Railroad has been in continuous operation since its inception, allowing passengers the chance to travel on one of the few lines in the US which has seen continuous use of coal-fired, steam locomotives. The railway, which has been declared a federally designated National Historic Landmark, operates the very same steam engines and vintage rolling stock today as it did in 1882, with the locomotives used on the line dating back as far as 1923.
Services began running from North Conway in the early 1870s, but passenger trains ceased in 1961. However, it re-opened as a tourist railway in 1974, now offering two main routes from the imposing station, a listed building. Passengers can enjoy the Mount Washington Valley countryside and surrounding White Mountains on journeys between Conway and North Conway. The other route takes passengers through Crawford Notch, where more panoramic mountain vistas can be seen. The North Conway Scenic Railroad offers a range of luxury rolling stock, such as the observation coach, and a Pullman.
Opened in 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway carried passengers and supplies over the sixty-five mile journey from the Arizona town of Williams to Grand Canyon Village at the canyon's South Rim. A convenient means of visiting one of the USA's greatest natural phenomena, the Grand Canyon Railway remained popular with tourists until the irresistible rise of America's car industry. As the popularity of road travel boomed, the railway's passengers declined and the line became freight-only in 1968 before closing altogether in 1974.
The Royal Gorge Railroad was built to capitalize on the mining industry that had developed in Colorado on the discovery of silver in the area. Constructed by the famous Denver & Rio Grande Railway, it is now generally considered to be the best-known section of their line.