To the Editor:
I read with interest your article, “A New Day for Dillsboro” (Smoky Mountain News, Feb. 9). As a resident of Jackson County and a former business owner in town, it has been unfortunate to watch what has happened to the town since the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad pulled out in 2008. Economic downturn or not, an attraction bringing 60,000 people a year into a town not otherwise a destination is certainly a boon for any merchant, and with the train leaving, there would have been a definite downturn in business no matter the economic climate.
Moreover, the train – with its advertising budget – could reach people from all over the world, drawing them to this quaint village. Without an attraction to draw tourists, the town’s tourist trade and businesses were certain to dwindle.
Many good people have chosen to close their businesses or have moved on to bustling towns in order to survive. The town and the train had a symbiotic relationship that failed to be nurtured and cultivated, making it easy for the train to leave the town when GSMR decided to consolidate its business operations in Bryson City.
What might have happened if they had chosen to consolidate their business to Dillsboro?
I am glad to hear the train is resuming partial trips back to Dillsboro, and I hope the result is an increase in business, a reacquaintance of tourists to the town, and a return to the bustling atmosphere that used to exist there.