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Stepping back in time, few could predict the storied life that Car 390 would lead. Built in 1947 by American Car and Foundry, this remarkable railway carriage first served the Central of Georgia’s famed train “the Nancy Hanks II”. As of recent, it is set to grace the tracks again in its original Central of Georgia paint scheme – a nostalgic throwback to its early days. However, to appreciate its full story, one must dive into the varied chapters of its life.

In its prime, Car 390 was more than just a passenger carriage. Following its tenure with the Central of Georgia, it was adopted by the Southern Railway who saw potential beyond its original design. They painted, lettered, and renumbered it to Car 726. More significantly, it was during this period that the car was transformed into a ‘recording car’. As the steam engine chugged along pulling the train, passengers could immerse themselves in the rich, resonant sounds of the steam locomotive – recording it for posterity. This unique feature made the car a favorite amongst rail enthusiasts and casual passengers alike.

In a fitting tribute to William J. Purdie, the retired Master Mechanic of Steam, the car bore his name for many years. It’s a testament to Purdie’s contributions to the world of steam-powered transportation and a symbol of Car 390’s significance.

However, all journeys have their pit stops. In 1994, following the culmination of the first Norfolk Southern steam program, Car 390 was retired. Yet, retirement didn’t mean the end. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad (WMSR) recognized the car’s heritage and added it to their ensemble in the same year. Serving the WMSR for over two decades, Car 390 then found its next chapter with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) in 2018.

By 2019, the car had a brief but memorable stint, featuring in the Summerville Christmas rides. Following this, it was ushered to Soule shops where it underwent a significant transformation. From bodywork, a new roof, to the modern comforts of fresh upholstery and updated restroom fixtures – Car 390 was not just restored, but enhanced.

One of its modern improvements is the improved ADA access, which has been strategically integrated using the baggage compartment doors. This ensures that everyone can partake in the joy of traveling in this historic car. Additionally, the inclusion of a large generator not only powers Car 390 but also other carriages in the train set.

The grand plan? Car 390 is poised to be a star attraction for the 2020 North Pole Limited season. It’s not just a carriage but a testament to the rich tapestry of railway history. From the bygone era of steam to the festive journeys of the North Pole Limited, Car 390 continues to enchant, inspire, and give passengers a ride to remember.

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Missionary Ridge Local Train Ride

January 1, 2024 - December 31, 2024 EDT

Embark on a journey aboard our historic short-line locomotive! Our most regularly scheduled voyages, fondly known as “The Local,” initiate from our distinguished Grand Junction Station, heading towards East Chattanooga. Here, you’ll enjoy a stopover featuring an intriguing demonstration of a classic turntable, followed by a tour of our workshop.