Printer-friendly page

Mount Mitchell Railroad and Toll Road

by Jeffrey Lovelace
From Mount Mitchell: its railroad and toll road, 1994.
Copyrighted material. Reprinted with permission.

Mount Mitchell Railroad placard. Trees are in the background.Short line mountain railroads are often miracles of construction. Built primarily for shipping logs, the Mount Mitchell Railroad was no exception. Within a span of 21 miles, the road climbed 3,500 feet, but utilized only three trestles and nine switchbacks, while maintaining a grade of five and a half percent. Access to the mountain, located in Western North Carolina, was slow and difficult; but after completion of the railroad, a timbering industry was born. The railroad also provided tourists with scenic trips along its rugged contours. When passenger service was discontinued, a motor toll road was built over much of the same route. Its completion marked the first time visitors could travel to Mount Mitchell using their automobiles.


Lovelace, Jeff. 1994. Mount Mitchell: its railroad and toll road. Johnson City, Tenn: Overmountain Press.

Image Credit:

Mount Mitchell Railroad; marker #: P-72. Image courtesy of NC Markers, North Carolina Office of Archives & History. Available from (accessed May 25, 2012).

Additional Resources:

"Mount Mitchell Railroad." N.C. Highway Historical Marker P-72, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed March 7, 2013).