Steam Engine Day planned in Attalla

By Danny By Danny "The Vagabond" Crownover

 Take a trip back in time, to a slower paced atmosphere when railroad travel was a way of life. Relive the romance of the rails when vintage trains provided an escape from the everyday routine. Aboard the Tennessee Valley Railroad #630 locomotive, you will ride a rolling time machine providing the sights and sounds of yesteryear.

The Vagabond is planning to board the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity adventure and he invites you to come with him on a very early morning ride with a big ol’ Southern meal. See below just how you can do this.

The City of Attalla is proud to announce that the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) will be offering a limited number of tickets for a public excursion between Chattanooga and Attalla on Nov. 10.

The steam-powered train will operate with diesel assistance primarily over Norfolk Southern’s Alabama Division main line on a 188-mile round trip. Passengers will be able to de-train in Attalla to browse the antique and specialty shops in Historic Downtown Attalla.

The excursions will feature ex-Southern Railway 2-8-0 #630 steam locomotive built in 1904 and recently restored to service by TVRM in Chattanooga. The trip will run over Norfolk Southern’s main lines out of Chattanooga.

There will be two local options offered by the City of Attalla.

Option 1:

Morning Trip:

Meet in Attalla to catch Charter bus at 4:30 a.m. CST to Chattanooga. The train leaves Chattanooga at 8 a.m. EST time and will arrive in Attalla 10:45 a.m. local time. Breakfast is included (eggs and sausage, biscuits and gravy, grits, juice, fruit, milk or coffee).  

Option 2:

 Afternoon Trip:

Train departs Attalla at 1 p.m. (arrive at 12:30 p.m.) local time to arrive back in Chattanooga at 5:45 p.m. EST time.  Ride charter bus back home.

NOTE: Tickets are $60 for Option 1 or 2.  There are only 55 seats available each trip thru the City of Attalla. The $60 includes the charter bus and the train ride.

Option 3: Round Trip:

Self-drive to Chattanooga Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s Grand Junction Station. It is located at 4119 Cromwell Road Chattanooga, TN. Order tickets from the website Tickets are $85 and meal is included. 

Departure time from TVRM’s Grand Junction is 8 a.m. EST, arriving in Attalla at ll:45 am EST (10:45 local time) for a 2-hour layover allowing passengers to visit Historic Downtown Attalla. Reboarding at 2 p.m. (l p.m. local time.) and return to TVRM’s Grand Junction in Chattanooga at approximately 5:45pm.

Passengers will depart and board the train at the vacant lot on the corner of 3rd Street (Hwy 11) & 5th Avenue next to the viaduct. Parking will be announced later. After departing the train, the main line area will be off limits to pedestrians until the train is prepared for reboarding.

There will be a downtown Attalla event from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.with a car show and entertainment.

General admission seating will be provided in climate-controlled coaches with comfortable seating and large windows. Seating capacity will be around 225 totals. There will be a commissary car that will be selling snacks, soft drinks, and light food items along with a gift shop for those who wish to purchase souvenir items

Attalla once grew to become the third largest rail center in Alabama, with 22 passenger trains entering or leaving daily as well as 36 freight trains on a daily basis. Therefore the presence of the 1904 Steam Locomotive is very special to the City of Attalla because of the town’s history. This is a onetime offer of a train ride in Attalla; don’t miss this opportunity to ride a vintage train that was once a passenger service.

The Tennessee Valley Railroad is a moving museum, offering an interactive, historical experience that will add an extra dimension to your visit to Chattanooga’s great attractions.

Here you will find the only regularly scheduled, full-sized train ride in Tennessee.Chattanooga welcomed its first rail line with the arrival of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1850. 

A few years later, in 185, the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad also arrived in Chattanooga.  The city quickly became a railroad hub with industries springing up in the area to take advantage of the new transportation corridors.

During the Civil War, Confederate and union leaders recognized Chattanooga’s strategic advantage because of its railroads, and in subsequent decades, the city’s railroad reputation gave rise to the iconic song “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

By the late 1950s, railroads were waning as interstates and airlines made travel faster and more personal.  With automobiles, Americans could choose their own schedule and stop as little or much as they wished. 

Passenger operations all but ended in the 1960s and freight operations suffered as big trucks hauled much of the freight across the country.

During this period, railroad museums formed to save some of the history of this most iconic mode of American transportation.

As steam made its last appearances on the country’s major railroads, a few railroad fans began buying steam engines and passenger cars that the railroads would otherwise have scrapped. 

This small collection was the beginning of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, which was founded by a small group of local residents in 1961 who were intent on trying to save some American history by preserving, restoring, and operating authentic railway equipment from the “Golden Age of Railroading.”

Railroads like the Southern Railway also made generous donations of obsolete rail cars to museums like TVRM, expanding their collections and the story the museum could tell. 

In addition, Southern Railway donated the original East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia roadbed (absorbed into the Southern Railway System in 1894) on which TVRM could operate.

Today, TVRM preserves railroad equipment not only to preserve machines, but to preserve an experience as well.

In providing this historic experience, TVRM hopes to educate visitors about the importance of this industry and how it helped create the modern world in which we live.

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