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Southern Appalachia Railway Excursion Train 8/18/2007

by Chris Guenzler

We came down the highway knowing that the Heritage Center was on the left. We saw a sign that said "Train Rides Today." We turned off the highway and found more signs that directed us to the parking lot and the Wheat Station. I picked up the tickets for today's train ride at the Wheat Depot then I met John Humphrey, one of the founding members of the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum. I first learned about this train ride from Bart and Sarah Jennings on my first rare mileage trip with them on the Idaho Northern Railroad. John, Chris and I talked while we waited for the train to pull into the Wheat Station. They were having air conditioning problems with one of the coaches so they were a little late in getting started.

The train pulled into the Wheat Station with GP-30 1030 ex L&N, Southern Railway Caboose X-261, Southern Baggage 543, ex Algoma Central Coach 663, Southern Coach Fort Oglethrop, Southern Dining 3164 and ex D&H nee LV C-420 2064.

Ex L&N GP-30 1030.

Ex L&N C-420 2064. We walked around the train to wait our turn to board.

The forward end of the train.

As passengers board they are searched by base security for our trip through the "Secret City Complex". When I mean searched I mean far better than any airport I had been through as they went through every pocket in my backpack. Once we were cleared we could board the train with Chris and I taking assigned seats in the Algoma Central Coach.

The train started off by heading north passing the Wheat Station.

One picture before we entered the Secret City and no more pictures were allowed to be taken while we transverse the property.

Once through the other gate, one can resume taking pictures and you can see the largest U shaped building in the world at the time it was built.

The train crossed Poplar Creek.

Passing the vegetation after we crossed Poplar Creek.

The train ran by the foundation for the original Checkpoint location for the Secret City.

Our train was rolling along the highway.

The train crossed the highway.

Our train continued rolling along the road that runs along our route.

The train was passing the forests that our train runs by.

Our train ran by the dirt road that serves homes along our route.

Passing through the forests along our route.

Inside the ex Algoma Central Coach.

Inside of Southern Coach 664 Fort Oglethorp.

Inside of the Southern Diner 3164.

The train has reached Blair, the northern point of our trip and here is the connection with the Norfolk Southern.

Returning south along the highway which runs along our route.

Our train later crossed Poplar Creek.

The train was about to enter the gate so no more pictures until we get through the property again.

Once we cleared the gate, some of the stored locomotives on the property. We passed the Wheat Station.

The train continued onward approaching the "Holding Pond" for the "Secret City".

Our train took the curve by the Holding Pond.

Tagged geese were enjoying the Holding Pond.

Further down the tracks Watt's Bar Lake came into view.

At our southern turn around point, some interesting railroad parts were found.

Another view of Watt's Bar Lake.

Chris and John were with me in the Southern Baggage Car 543.

We ran back by the Holding Pond.


The train pulling in backing into the Wheat Station. I detrained for more pictures of this train.

Chris and John once again.

The ex D&H C-420.

Passengers and kids got a chance the honk the horn of the GP-30 1030.

The ex L&N GP-30 1030.

Ex Southern Caboose X-261.

Ex Southern Baggage Car 543.

Ex Algoma Central Coach 663.

Ex Southern Coach 664 Fort Oglethrop.

Ex Southern Diner 3164.

Another view of our train. Chris then told me that he had lost his glasses off of his face but was not sure where he did. John and I offered Chris our services. We drove out along the line past Poplar Creek and started to walk the tracks. I must have walked over five miles of track as did the other two of us but we had no luck in finding them. Chris then decided it was time to give up and a big well hearted thank you for trying to help us find the glasses. Chris found a Lens Crafters in a mall in Knoxville. I called Lets Talk Trains giving them a quick update about our trip. We decided before leaving to take pictures of the 3:00 PM departure. After showing a pair of ladies to the train we went back to the road crossing by Poplar Creek.

The train ran by our location. Chris and I drove back to the mall in Knoxville and we waited for his new glasses to be made. After that we drove through Oakridge to US 27 which we headed north on. The Norfolk Southern Rathole line than came into our view and we decided to pull into Glen Mary to see if we could catch any trains. It did not take long.

We found a southbound NS freight waiting at Glen Mary. Next a northbound freight came but also stopped in Glen Mary.

Next a southbound NS freight crossed over to continue its trip.

The northbound waited and now who would be next to move.

The northbound freight went by us first at Glen Mary.

The southbound NS freight was finally turned lose at Glen Mary. It had been some great train watching at Glen Mary this early evening. We drove north on US 27 stopping off at Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken in Oneida for dinner. After a most full feeling meal, we drove the rest of the way to Sterns, Kentucky to the Big South Fork Motor Inn for our two night stay there.

8/19/2007 We got up and drove south to Oneida to Walmart to get some things and a breakfast at McDonald's. We then drove to a grade crossing at Ratcliff.

Ratcliff Control Point on the Norfolk Southern.

A northbound NS freight at Ratcliff. We then drove north on US 27 back into Kentucky to Norwood.

A northbound NS freight at Norwood. We then headed back south.

A stop was made at the Cumberland River Bridge for a picture.

Our next stop was the bridge on Keno Road.

There are some very interesting rock strata here.

For some reason people throw their old PC's off of the Keno Road Bridge.

I took a picture of Chris out on the Keno Road Bridge. We decided to check out Cave Springs Road Bridge.

The views from Cave Spring Road Bridge.

We next went to the next bridge north to check out its photo angles. Good locations but a lack of trains. We headed back to Stearns but we saw a Boone National Forest Sign for "The Arch". We decided to check it out. We drove to the parking lot and I headed down the trail all the way to the bottom where I found "The Arch".

"The Arch". With me out of time, I walked up the 165 steps in 7 minutes and we drove back to Stearns for our next train ride.