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The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a railroad museum in Chattanooga, Tennesseemarker.

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum was founded as a chapter of the National Railway Historical Society in 1960 by Paul H. Merriman and Robert M. Soule, Jr. along with a group of local railway preservationists who were concerned with saving steam locomotives and railway equipment for future historical display.


Founded in 1960 and incorporated in 1961, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum originally stored equipment at the Western Union pole yard which was located adjacent to the Southern Railway classification yard on Holtzclaw Avenue in East Chattanooga. After the termination of passenger service to the Southern Railway terminal station in 1971, additional cars and locomotives were stored at this facility in downtown Chattanooga. In 1969, the TVRM received a land donation from the Southern Railway consisting of a property located in East Chattanooga on North Chamberlain Avenue. This donation also included the 986-foot-long Missionary Ridge Tunnel and about a mile and a half of abandoned right-of-way.

In 1970 the museum opened a new permanent facility in East Chattanooga to the public. At the time of its opening, there were no structures on site, although volunteers had constructed a rail yard for the storage and repair of equipment, and they had rebuilt the abandoned rail line through the Missionary Ridge Tunnel. The reconstructed line ended at Tunnel Boulevard as the original bridge over this road had been removed some years earlier.

Heritage railroad

With the reconstructed rail line, the museum had the ability to produce a small amount of income operating a heritage railroad by running passenger excursion trains through Missionary Ridge Tunnel.

Additional income was derived from mainline excursions operated biannually via the Southern Railway's Steam Program. The birth of the Southern Railway's Steam Program was brought about by Paul Merriman and TVRM, when, in 1964, Merriman purchased a former Southern Steam locomotive number 4501 from the K&T Railroad in Sterns, Kentucky. The program began in 1966 when the freshly restored 4501 emerged from a 2 years long restoration which had been done at Lucey Boiler Company in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After many volunteer hours by TVRM members as well as paid Lucey Boiler employee work the 4501 began roaming all over the Southern Railway System delighting onlookers and passengers every where.

After years of hard work and the exercising much financial discipline in 1977 TVRM finally built the long needed bridge over Tunnel Blvd. The Southern Railway then donated an additional mile and a half of abandoned rail line. The next major task undertaken was to build the East Chattanooga Depot. This Depot is a reconstruction of a typical small town depot of the 1920s The 1980s saw TVRM expanding and getting more land donated from the Southern Railway; during this time more buildings and track was added. The Grand Junction Depot, TVRM Administration Building and the National Model Railroad Association were starting to take shape. At the East Chattanooga facility, a repair shop and a turntable were added to provide facilities for locomotive repair and maintenance. The 1990s rolled around and TVRM had a locomotive ready for the Missionary Ridge Local, steam locomotive 610 was ready for service and Norfolk Southern dropped the fires on the steam excursions (Southern 4501 was the one that started it all, owned by TVRM, she is currently mothballed). The 1990s also saw TVRM running trains to the Chattanooga Choo Choo (called the Downtown Arrow, now discontinued) and excursions down to Summerville, Georgiamarker, on the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway.

In the movies

TVRM has been a prime movie spot since the 1980s. Several of the rail cars that TVRM owns have been used in movies (for example, the collection holds the Pullman sleeping car "Clover Colony" that was used in the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like it Hot, which was filmed in 1959, two years before TVRM started).

A partial list of movies shot with TVRM equipment:

Current operations

Today, TVRM is still running trains and has started local service for a company next to their mainline. Visitors can take a 6-mile round trip ride, typically pulled by ex-U.S. Army consolidation-type (2-8-0) steam locomotive 610, and see what railroading was like in the golden age of railroading (TVRM is the official railroad museum of the State of Tennessee). In 2006, TVRM began providing excursion trains to the Hiwassee Loop with NC&StL 710 pulling the train. As a result of this expanded service, TVRM received a trainset from the defunct Hardin Southern Railroad in Hardin, Kentuckymarker, complete with a Chessie System C27A Caboose. TVRM has painted and leased Southern Railway GP30 no. 2594 from the Southeastern Railway Museum in Duluth, Georgiamarker for use on the L&N Hook and Eye line.

See also


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