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Nashville Star Commuter Train Trip 6/19/2017

by Chris Guenzler

We arrived in Lebanon and would make our first stop, but first some information about the City of Nashville, where the 2017 NRHS convention will be held.

City of Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. Nashville, with its government partner Davidson County (there is a joint city-county government), has a population of approximately 700,000, with the 13-county Nashville metropolitan area having about 1-3/4 million residents, making it the largest city in the state.

Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, and a party of Overmountain Men in 1779. An earlier settlement, Fort Nashborough, stood nearby on the Cumberland River. Francis Nash, an American Revolutionary War hero, was the inspiration for the town's name. The community was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County in 1806. It became the capital of Tennessee in 1843. Its location on the Cumberland River, and the number of railroads built to the docks, made Nashville a very prosperous city. During the Civil War, it was an early target for Union forces, and during February 1862, became the first southern capital to fall to northern forces. It soon became the major supply point for Union forces across the region. After the war, the facilities built by the Union Army soon hosted commercial businesses, and the economy again boomed in Nashville. The money moving through the city led to the construction of a number of grand classical-style buildings, many of which still stand throughout Nashville.

Nashville is famous for its country music, and it is one of the major economic factors in the city. All of the Big Four record labels, plus many independent labels, are located in Nashville. Since the 1960s, Nashville has been the second-largest music production center in the country. Guitar company Gibson is also based here. Estimates state that the music industry employs approximately 20,000 people and pumps nearly $7 billion a year into the local economy.

However, this is not all that drives Nashville. It is also a center for the healthcare, publishing, banking and transportation industries. Healthcare accounts for 200,000 jobs in the area and contributes $30 billion to the economy. Nashville is home to more than 300 health care companies, including Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the largest private operator of hospitals in the world.

Fortune 500 companies with offices within Nashville include companies such as Bridgestone, Nissan North America, Tractor Supply Company, and Dollar General. It is the home of Goo Goo Clusters (made in Nashville since 1912). The economic environment of the area has placed Nashville on many business lists, including Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers (#5 in 2013), Forbes Best City for White Collar Jobs (#4 in 2015), and Business Facilities Cities for Economic Growth Potential (#1 in 2015). Nashville is a major railroad hub, with CSX lines heading in multiple directions. However, Nashville is not served by Amtrak, making it the third-largest metropolitan area in the country without such passenger service (behind Las Vegas and Columbus).

Taken from a yet to be released Nashville & Eastern - History Through The Miles book by Barton Jennings, one of a series of railroad route histories created from years of operating charter passenger trains across the United States. The books are available through Amazon as they are released.

Our trip

The first stop was at the Tennessee Central station in Lebanon.

Tennessee Central station in Lebanon.

The Tennessee Central concrete mile marker. From here we drove over to the Music City Star station in Lebanon and parked, then waited for the train to arrive from the yard to take us to Nashville.

Music City Star Train 156 pulled into the Lebanon station.

Music City Star F40PH 121 ex Amtrak 398. We boarded the train and it left at 3:20 PM.

Elizabeth and I aboard the Music City Star commuter train. The conductor then came and sold us our one-way tickets to Nashville. This service does not use any ticketing machines but you can buy tickets at Kroger stores, Mount Juliet City Hall, Lebanon City Hall, Music City Central and the Riverfront Park station in Nashville. Due to the tinted green windows found on these former Chicago Metra cars, I forgoed taking any pictures from my previous experiences in Chicago where my pictures always turned out green. We rode the line from Lebanon and we stopped at Martha, Mount Juliet, Hermitage and Donelson before reaching the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum, where at the switch to their property, my new mileage began and continued all the way to Riverfront Station. When we arrived, I noticed that the passengers had already lined up in a very orderly line to board the train. To ensure that we had seats, I had Elizabeth stay on while Bob went to the Riverfront Station to get his senior ticket and I went to take pictures of our F40PH.

Music City Star F40PH 121 at Riverfront Station in Nashville. We then switched places while Elizabeth went off to photograph the engine and I watched the seat. Bob soon joined us. We started the trip back to Lebanon aboard Train 157 and bought tickets from the conductor. He sold us tickets to Mt. Juliet. Then he asked us if we were going to Lebanon and when we said yes, he informed us that this train only went as far as Mt. Juliet. He then came back with tickets to Lebanon and told us just to wait thirty minutes for the next train to arrive in Mt. Juliet that would take us to Lebanon. He said this happens all the time to passengers. We did not know that we were in a quiet car until a nice lady informed us of that fact and I looked up and saw the sign. So we used hushed tones after that. We then rode to Mt. Juliet where we etrained and it was time for more pictures.

Our train at Mt. Juliet.

Music City Star F40PH 121 at Mt. Juliet. This train then headed back to Riverfront Station to become the last train from Nashville to Lebanon. So we waited the thirty minutes but then I had ideas for other pictures.

Bob and Elizabeth looking good at the Mt. Juliet station.

The Music City Star information board at Mt. Juliet. We waited, then about 5:30 PM, we heard a horn and then the crossing gates went down and the train approached.

Music City Star Train 159 with F40PH 122, ex. Amtrak 399. We rode this train back to Lebanon and then drove to a gas station where we gassed up the rental car before we returned to the Days Inn where Bob and Elizabeth checked in. From here we went to the Longhorn Steakhouse where I enjoyed a much-needed steak. We returned to the hotel, wrote the first story then discovered the FTP explorer was not working. This was a first in all my trips, so after I struggled, I sent Steve an e-mail because Robin has had the same problem when he was out of space. I watched some television then called it a night.