Facebook Page

NRHS Summerville Steam Trip 6/20/2017

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth, Bob and I stopped at McDonald's for breakfast before we drove over to the National Railway Historical Society Convention hotel, the Nashville Airport Hotel. We went to the second floor for a brief safety meeting before we went back down and I had Bus Three which all my usual passengers boarded as well as a few new ones. We left for Chattanooga down Interstate 24 and made a rest stop at the Georgia Rest Area before continuing to the Tennessee Railroad Museum.

Railroad History

The corporate history of this company dates hack to August 30, 1881, when the Rome and Carrollton Railroad Company was incorporated. Its name was changed on August 29, 1887, to the Chattanooga, Rome and Columbus Railroad Company. No trackage was built under the original name. The railroad was purchased by the Savannah and Western Railroad Company May 5, 1891, and after going into receivership for a year, the Chattanooga, Rome and Columbus was divorced from the Savannah and Western by Federal court decree and returned to its original owners Feb. 1, 1894. It was again sold in 1897 under foreclosure proceedings, and bought by Simon Borg and Company. They reorganized the railroad June 30, 1897, under the name of Chattanooga, Rome and Southern Railroad Company.

The Central of Georgia acquired the property May 16, 1901, and possession was given June 1, 1901. Savannah, Griffin & North Alabama Railroad chartered in 1854, the SG&NA opened from Griffin to Newnan in 1870 and to Carrollton in 1872. Many miles of the line were graded by convicts leased by the state to railroad contractor Grant, Alexander & Company. Poors 1881 Manual indicated that the SG&NA was operated in connection with the Central of Georgia. The railroad's president was William M. Wadley and the vice-president was W.G. Raoul, both of Savannah. The general offices were also in Savannah. In November, 1890 the SG&NA was sold under foreclosure and purchased by the Savannah & Western Railroad. The line from Chattanooga to Carrollton was constructed by the Chattanooga, Rome and Columbus in 1888, having a total mileage of 137.86 miles.

Chattanooga, Rome & Columbus Railroad

During the Panic of 1893, it was sold in 1897 to Simon Borg and Company and reorganized as the Chattanooga, Rome & Southern Railroad. Its tracks ran from Chattanooga to Carrollton, where it met the Central of Georgia. Along the way it passed through Chickamauga, LaFayette, Summerville, Rome, Cedartown, Buchanan and Bremen.

Poors 1898 Manual reported that the CR&S had nine locomotives and 250 cars as follows: passenger 7; baggage, etc. 3; freight (box 57; coal 117; flat 44; stock 1), 219: caboose 6; other 15.

In 1900 the CR&S purchased the Chattanooga & Durham Railroad, a 17-mile line that ran west from Chickamauga to coal mines atop Lookout Mountain.

On May 16, 1901, the CR&S was sold to the Central of Georgia.

Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway

The Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway (reporting mark CCKY) is a short-line railroad which is headquartered in LaFayette, Georgia. The railroad operated 22 miles of the Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia Railway (also known as the TAG route) from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Kensington, Georgia, which reverted to the Norfolk Southern system and was partially removed after the Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex LLC plant in Kensington closed in August 2008. The "C&C" also operates 42 miles of the former Central of Georgia Railroad from Chattanooga to Lyerly, Georgia. That line is leased from the state of Georgia.


The locomotives the C&C operates are 102 (former Chicago and North Western Transportation Company EMD GP7), 103 (former Santa Fe CF7, now retired), 2050 (EMD GP38) and Columbus & Greenville 1804 (former Illinois Central GP11). Also, they use a Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum GP7 if one of their three locomotives is in repair or out of service.

Our trip

I debused and walked straight to where I would take my first pictures of Southern Railway 630 and 4501.

On the way, I was greeted by Southern SD40 3170 built by General Motors in 1971.

Southern Railway 2-8-0 630 built by Alco in 1904. It primarily served the Southern Railway on the Asheville Division, working mainly on the Murphy and Lake Toxaway Branches, until it was retired in June 1952 with 48 years of service. The locomotive was then sold to the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad in Johnson City, Tennessee, working the route between Johnson City and Elizabethton. While under ownership of the Tweetsie Railroad, 630 was renumbered to 207. In 1967, the Southern Railway traded a diesel locomotive to the ET&WNC to reacquire the 630 for use in the expanding Southern Railway Steam Excursion Program. The 630 continued working as a mainline excursion star until 1978, when train length really began to exceed the capacity of the small 630. It was at this time in 1978 that the 630 came to Tennessee Valley Railway Museum and today, Southern Railway 630 can be found as motive power for the Missionary Ridge Local, and occasionally on the Summerville Steam Special.

Southern Railway 2-8-2 4501 built by Baldwin in 1911. Leading a rather unremarkable career, this locomotive operated for the Southern in East Tennessee, Central Kentucky, and later in Southern Indiana.

In 1948, L.C. Bruce, general manager of the Kentucky & Tennessee Railway in Stearns, Kentucky, was in need of a third locomotive to supplement his numbers 10 & 11, which were built new for the K&T. Being a former Southern man himself, he naturally headed there to find what would become K&T 12. In Princeton, Indiana, Mr. Bruce found the eldest of the Southern's 2-8-2's, which he purchased and brought to Stearns, where it would live for the next 16 years.

During the following 16 years, this rather inauspicious locomotive remained in obscurity in the mountains of east/central Kentucky, until it was discovered by Robert Soule and Paul Merriman, two gentlemen on a mission to see and photograph the remaining holdouts for steam power in the east. The two men would later form the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in 1961. They immediately took a liking to the 12, which is different in appearance from stablemates 10 & 11. It was obviously of Southern Railway pedigree. When Soule and Merriman learned that the K&T was converting to diesel, they raised the $5,000 asking price that Mr. Bruce wanted for the 12 through TVRM, and off to Stearns they went to acquire ownership of the locomotive. After a meeting with Mr. Bruce, Merriman came back outside exclaiming "Fellas, I did it!," to which Soule replied with, "You did what Paul?" "I bought the 4501!," he exclaimed. Indeed, Paul Merriman had purchased with his own funds, this locomotive, instead of with TVRM funds as planned. Left standing with a $5,000 check, the members of TVRM later went back to Mr. Bruce to purchase stablemate K&T 10 for their museum.

After that eventful day in 1964, this rather unremarkable locomotive was thrust into the spotlight, where it quickly became one of the most traveled, photographed, and inarguably one of the most famous steam locomotives in the world. Since the mid-1960s, Southern Railway 4501 has pulled countless mainline passenger excursions for the Southern (later Norfolk Southern) Railway Steam Excursion Program, and museum excursions for TVRM as well.

The 4501 ended its service in 1999 due to rising maintenance costs, but was later selected for service in the "21st Century Steam" program, being restored to service between 2011 and 2014. The "21st Century Steam" Program has since ended, but the 4501 can still be found operating over TVRM tracks today, to the delight of many happy passengers. Over the last 57 years in preservation, Southern Railway 4501 has carried hundreds of thousands of passengers on excursions all over the east and the midwestern United States, and it has been through those ticket sales, along with countless donations, that this locomotive is still operating today. The 4501 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Southern Railway 2-8-0 630.

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's Missionary Ridge local, led by Tennessee Alabama and Georgia GP38 80 (built by Electro-Motive Division in 1968) arrived at Grand Junction.

After it had unloaded and loaded its next passengers, the steam engines pushed back the rear of our trainset while they were switching our train together.

Views as I walked up to the front of the train at this point.

The steam engines are still putting together our train for today.

The TVRM Missionary Ridge local heads out of the station area. I went into the depot and took the elevator upstairs to an occupied bathroom that I knew about then took the stairs back down and waited with the coach passengers to board the train. Of course I would have known where the train would board if the step box had been used. But they used the loading ramp instead so I was in the front of that line.

Once the train was spotted, they let us board and I took a seat and saved the seats in front of me for Bob and Elizabeth in Southern coach 829. The train had a consist of Southern 2-8-2 4501, Southern 2-8-0 630, TNVR coach 98 (formerly Baltimore and Ohio), TNVR coach 97 (formerly Southern), Southern dining car 3158, CN/Grand trunk Western dining car 99 "Silver Lake", TNVR concession car 50 (formerly USAX 89658), TNVR coach 97 (formerly Central of Georgia), Southern coach 829, TNVR coach 661 (formerly Central of Georgia), TNVR open air coach 1000 (Southern) and Seaboard Air Line observation lounge 6604.

Leaving Grand Junction as the Southern Railway units say goodbye to us.

Crossing the South Chickamauga Creek to the west of the museum.

Crossing the CSX Chattanooga main line.

The train curving down the line.

Stored equipment including a B unit.

The train takes the curves toward the Missionary Ridge tunnel.

The train passes through the 986 foot long Missionary Ridge tunnel which was built in 1858.

The train takes more of the curves on this very unique piece of railroad.

The train stopped to throw the switch that would take us off the TVRM property and I would start my only new mileage of this convention down to the switch to the Summerville Branch.

As we left the museum grounds, we received a send-off from the Missionary Ridge local returning to Grand Junction. Now it is going to be fun going down the piece of railroad that I have never been on before.

Passing the rear of the Missionary Ridge local as we start my new mileage.

Two views of the train passing trees with kudzu plants attached, trying to kill them.

Going through a rural grade crossing.

Looking down the side of the train.

Passing through the back yards of East Chattanooga.

Running along a thoroughfare in eastern Chattanooga.

Passing by the Chattanooga Zoo.

A yellow signal along our route.

Crossing a major road in Chattanooga.

The Chattanooga National Cemetery where Andrew Jackson and his Raiders are buried.

Crossing another road in Chattanooga.

The park with the unique art sculptures in Chattanooga.

The train stopped so the crew could check the air conditioning on the Southern coach car we were riding in. It was okay and we were on our way again.

The turn to access Norfolk Southern's main line.

Running along the Norfolk Southern main line.

Here I spotted Steve Barry and Mike Burkhart, with whom I chased the Lhoist freight train. I would see Steve at Rock Springs to help him with the making of the photo line.

The Norfolk Southern line came in the side as the train will pass under the Interstate 24 bridge. This location ends my new mileage because from the Chattanooga Choo Choo, where the 2007 NRHS convention trips left from, we came out to the main and zig-zagged onto the Summerville line. So now it was back to old mileage the rest of the way there, which was fine with me.

Curving on to the Summerville line.

One of the things I remembered about this railroad was the large amounts of kudzu plants as we started our journey south toward Summerville. Our group three was then chimed into the dining room where we responded with going and sitting in the second dining car for lunch.

Me in the dining car.

Bob and Elizabeth in the dining car. They served Hero sandwiches with cheese, so I could not eat it. I therefore just had the dessert, which a nice big piece of chocolate cake, along with lemonade. It really hit the spot.

After lunch, a view as we approached Rock Springs, the photo runby location. We stopped and I was the first person off the train and found Steve Barry who said to make the photo line at the bottom of the hill and at the end of it, angle it toward the train. So I walked down the parking lot of the college as far as I thought I needed to go then started one end of the photo line, which everybody followed. So now we would e able to see Southern Railway's 4501 and 630 in steamy action.

Reverse move number one.

Photo Runby number one.

Reverse move number two.

Photo runby number two. These two runbys were both excellently performed, making all the NRHS passengers very happy to get photographs of these two wonderful steam engines. A special thank you to Steve Barry for planning and organizing this photo runby. Once everyone was back on the train, we continued heading south and came to Lafayette, where I knew there was a depot and normally Chattanooga and Chickamauga Railroad motive power.

The Lafayette depot and offices of the Chattanooga and Chickamauga Railroad.

Chattanooga and Chickamauga Railroad GP11 1804 (ex. Columbus & Greenville 1804, nee Illinois Central 9185), built by Electro-Motive Division in 1956.

Chattanooga and Chickamauga Railroad CF7 102 (ex. Columbus & Greenville 804, exx. Santa Fe 2464, nee Santa Fe F7A 345L) built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952. I enjoyed a can of Coca-Cola as the train went the final miles to Summerville. We arrived at the depot, ending a fantastic trip with Southern Railway 4501 and 630. A special thank you to all the volunteers of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum for providing us with this steam railroading experience. We then were off first and went to our buses where we waited for all the passengers to come back for the trip back to Nashville.

Once everyone was aboard, we headed west into Alabama where I got on the PA system and told everyone they were now in Alabama and where they were going tomorrow, they would be getting their fourth state. I asked if we had ever had an NRHS convention that had been in four different states. That brought some good discussion. The rains then started as we made our way into Alabama as this was the first attack from Tropical Storm Cindy. Next I asked how many train songs we could come up. That made another interesting discussion for all our passengers. After that, it was how many states have we not had an NRHS convention in. That broke up the long trip back very nicely. We returned to the Nashville Airport Hotel and unloaded the bus, after which we went upstairs and bought our souvenirs from this convention then went to Popeye's Chicken for dinner. We returned to our hotel and wrote stories. This story is a little late being put up, but will be done so after we write the next convention story since Elizabeth has a hot spot on her mobile phone that allows me to now upload stories. As such, my FTP problems are now officially over.