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Getting to the NRHS 2017 Nashville Convention

by Chris Guenzler

This year's NRHS 2017 Convention was to be in Nashville. I was asked to be a bus host again this year and would work the Summerville Steam trip, My Old Kentucky Dinner Train trip and the Heritage Tour to the Andrew Jackson Hermitage Site and Jackson Showboat Tour plus the Tennessse Central trip to Cokeville. I planned the trip to do the Southern Railway Number 154 Photography Charter in Knoxville, Bluegrass Railroad Museum, ride the Nashville Star commuter train and visit the Casey Jones Museum in Jackson, TN, plus more before the convention begins. After the convention I would visit Bowling Green and the Kentucky Railroad Museum then fly home the next day. It will be a great trip with Bob and Elizabeth Alkire joining me Monday through Sunday before they fly home.

Southwest Airlines 1149 6/15/2017

I got up in the morning and waited for Super Shuttle while having breakfast. They arrived late due to traffic but got me down to the airport in plenty of time. I was TSA approved but my CD case caused me to have a secondary search that only took a few moments. The TSA agent was very apologetic, saying that it should not have happened as all I had in there was music and music should not have flagged the system. With my knees hurting, I was pre-boarded which allowed me to choose a better seat. I sat in the second row which allowed a very easy exit when I arrived in Las Vegas. This flight was one of those up, level off and down flights. When I got to the level part, I enjoyed a Coca-Cola. We arrived in the B Terminal at Vegas but my connecting flight was at C25. So I walked over to that terminal in plenty of time. This plane was having a significant problem. The crew was not there. Shortly thereafter, the cabin crew arrived. We could not board the plane until both pilots were there so the first pilot arrived off a flight that came in from Phoenix and the main pilot arrived on a flight from Houston which had been delayed by weather.

Southwest Airlines 3285 6/15/2017

This flight, while leaving ten minutes late, was smooth sailing as I enjoyed another Coca-Cola and took one for myself for later on the second serving. This flight had me arrive in Nashville on time. I went to the Dollar Rental Car counter, filled out the paperwork then was led on a wild goose chase to the rental car terminal. Finally finding the Dollar Rental car kiosk on the second level, I was told to pick a mid-size car of my choosing. So with the choice of cars, I decided to pick a Nissan Versa. I then headed to the Days Inn (why they call it the airport I do not know as it is a way from the airport) and was given Room 641 which was very comfortable and I had a good first night in Nashville.

6/16/2017I got up at 5:45 AM, packed up the room and headed out across Tennessee. I took the Interstate 24 south to an exit to Smyrna where I would find my first depot of the morning.

The Louisville & Nashville station, formerly NC&StL, at Smyrna. From here I drove to Murfreesboro.

The Murfreesboro NC&StL station built in 1887.

Also on hand was the CSX local power at Murfreesboro. From here I took a wrong turn and was headed southwest. Once I crossed Interstate 840, I knew I was on the wrong road so I took the first left which took me back under the freeway. It made a T in the road; that road took me south where I joined US 41A, the road I needed to take to get to my next stop in Tullhoma.

CSX 5277 West at Tullhoma.

The Tullhoma NC&StL station.

L&N caboose 1092 in Tullhoma. I made my way to Winchester where I stopped at McDonald's for breakfast. From there I went on to Cowan.

The 1904 NC&StL wood-frame depot at Cowan.

Two NC&StL speeders on display beside the depot.

Cherokee Brick and Tile 2-4-2 1 built 1920.

L&N flat car 24536.

NC&StL bay window caboose NE8 153.

The display train.

NC&StL 44-tonner 100.

A display train.

NC&StL boxcar 22524.

Museum scene.

Another view of the display train. As I was driving away I heard a whistle coming so I crossed the street, parked and stood in a bandstand to photograph the train.

CSX 7827 West at Cowan. From here I drove to Chase, Alabama to the Northern Alabama Railroad Museum who knew I would be there this morning. Finding it closed, I walked in to photograph and started to do that.

A display caboose.

Mercury and Chase ex. Lackawanna Railroad S-2 484.

The Chase station, Southern Railway/NC&StL built in 1937.

Alco RSD-1 8652.

Southern Railway heavyweight passenger coach built 1926.

Dubuque ice bunker refrigerator car.

Museum scene. I was going to continue to photograph down this line when I noticed a pole which had a warning about you being filmed if trespassing. Even though they knew I was going to be here, why take a chance? So I decided to go and take pictures of the Mercury Express passenger train.

The Mercury Express passenger train.

Former Pennsylvania Railroad coach 6082.

Former Pennsylvania Railroad coach 6072.

Former U.S. Army hospital car 1000, now a concession/diner.

Alco S-2 213.

One last view of the Mercury Express.

Museum scene.

Alco RSD-1 8652.

Chase depot. I left the museum and stopped at Walmart on my way out of town to get a tripod since mine would not fit in my suitcase. I then started my trek to where I thought I was going which was Pigeon Forge. As I neared Chattanooga, I lost 45 minutes due to bumper-to-bumper traffic. I made my way to Townsend, Tennessee and my next stop of the day.

The Little River Railroad background

The Little River Railroad is a historic class III railroad that operated between Maryville and Elkmont, Tennessee during the period 1901 to 1939.


The Little River Railroad was established as a subsidiary of the Little River Lumber Company on November 21, 1901. Colonel W. B. Townsend was the owner of both entities.

The LRR was primarily a logging railroad. The Little River Lumber Company owned over 76,000 acres of prime forest land in Blount and Sevier counties. By the time Little River Lumber Company completed operations in 1939, it had harvested two billion board feet of lumber from the Little River watershed.

The general methodology of the LRR was to build a line into an area, complete the logging operation, then remove the line. In all, the LRR built 150 miles of track, none of which still exists.

The LRR operated a number of forms of equipment during LRR's lifetime. The primary logging locomotive was the Shay. The LRR also utilized the 4-6-2 Pacific and the first 2-4-4-2 Articulated Mallet. In addition, the LRR owned a rail bus and Col. W.B. Townsend utilized a rail car.

In 1925, Col. Townsend agreed to deed all of the holdings of the Little River Lumber Company to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for $273,557, or $3.58 an acre. This purchase represented a singular milestone in the eventual creation of the park. The purchase permitted the Little River Lumber Company to continue logging within the park boundaries until 1938. In 1939, the LRR ended operations.

Today, the Little River Lumber Co & Railroad Museum in Townsend, Tennessee preserves the history of the LRR.


70-ton Shay engine at the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum in Townsend, Tennessee. This particular engine was used in the Tellico area to the west of Tuckaleechee. The LRR had a main line which ran from Maryville, through Walland and Sunshine to Townsend. The line of the LRR roughly follows US 321 and TN 73 today. Townsend was the site of the Little River Lumber Company's sawmill. The main line continued to the confluence of the Little River and the West Prong of the Little River at a spot now known as the Townsend Y. The western branch led to Tremont, where a small logging community was located. The eastern branch led to Elkmont, where a larger logging community and a recreational community were located.

The LRR roadbed still winds its way along the Little River from Townsend to Elkmont as the Little River Gorge Road or TN 73. Within this section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are numerous trails that owe their existence to the LRR. All of the "Quiet Walkways" except Bote Mountain Road between Gatlinburg and Cades Cove are former LRR road bed.

My visit

I pulled into the parking lot and was very happy I came here.

The sign along the highway.

Little River Lumber Company shay 2147.

Logging crane.

Steam tractor.

A logging car.

The restoration shop.

A rear view of Little River Lumber Company shay 2147. I went into the office and introduced myself to the gentleman behind the desk. We had a quick visit as I thought I had another place to go. I headed on to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This part of the trip was in vain as there were no signs coming from the south directing anyone to Dollyworld. As it was late in the afternoon and I had a night photo shoot to do, I then forgoed my Dollyworld experience and headed to Knoxville, where I checked into the Super 8 for the night. But first I would go down to the river for the night photo session with Southern Railway 154. That however is another story.