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Smoke & Cinders (2nd Quarter 2017) – What it takes to put on an event

Smoke and Cinders

What it takes to put on an event

While about 70% of our ridership comes from passengers on our “regular” trains (Missionary Ridge Local, Hiwassee and North Georgia), the remaining 30% come from special events. Those 30% of our riders represent 57% of our passenger revenue due to the higher prices charged for the events. Each special event requires a high level of advance planning and close supervision to ensure an extraordinary experience for our guests.

At TVRM each special event has an event coordinator. Whether it be Steve Freer for Day Out With Thomas or Jennifer Ennis for the Bunny Trains, each event coordinator takes a personal interest in the success of the event and invests hundreds of hours before the final curtain falls. Day Out With Thomas is a licensed event which comes with an event guide that is several inches thick of specific plans for all aspects of the event. North Pole Limited and our other Christmas themed rides have our own guide that includes photos showing placement of decorations. For event coordinator Trevor Lanier booking entertainment and other critical personnel begins in the late Spring even as he packs the last of the DOWT merchandise. Upcoming events already under planning and production include Railfest in September, Halloween Eerie Express in October and North Pole Limited in November and December. Utilizing feedback from the staff and visitors from past years the event coordinators are making adjustments to the operating plans to make each of those events even better.

King Tut and the Eden Isle

Lord Carnarvon looked anxiously over Howard Carter’s shoulder. “Can you see anything?” he said nervously. “Yes. Wonderful things,” was Carter’s response as he peered through a small opening in the tomb wall. On November 26, 1922, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon first looked into the outer chamber of King Tut’s tomb and beheld the many objects and treasures that had been buried with the young pharaoh. It was the archeological find of a lifetime: an undisturbed tomb, from which we could learn so much through the artifacts that were left inside. Artifacts provide a link to the past, a portal through which we can travel back in time and connect to the stories they tell. This is what makes museums like TVRM so important. We are the repository of artifacts, stories, journeys and experiences in which our visitors can participate. TVRM’s private car “Eden Isle,” the artifacts of Tut’s tomb and all other museum pieces tell stories, and in so doing, move us into another time and space, allowing us to learn more about who and why, we are. In 1917, the Pullman Company built #99 for the president of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. The car was fairly standard as private cars go (much like saying a Gulf Stream V is a fairly standard private plane today): it featured three bedrooms, two of which connected with a full bathroom in the middle. The third bedroom was smaller and more austere, reserved for the (male) secretary. In the hallway was another restroom for other passengers. At the rear of the car, was the lounge, which could comfortably seat 8 people. The lounge opened onto the rear platform, which was exposed to the wind, cinders, dust and other elements of rail travel in the early 20th century. Forward of the bedrooms was the dining room and ahead of it were the trunk room, crew quarters, pantry and kitchen. All of these elements made the car completely self reliant, meaning passengers on board did not rely on another dining car or other supporting cars for food, beds or other amenities. The interior of #99 featured standard Pullman appointments for the era: mahogany paneling, brass fixtures, silver hardware, stained glass windows in interior and buffet doors, writing desk, gauges displaying speed, air brake pressure and time, and a barometer. Walls throughout the car featured sets of two call buttons: one button to summon the secretary, and another to summon the porter. An annunciator in the crew section of the car would alert the staff as to which button had been rung, and telling them where to go. Guests on the car received first-class treatment from the porters on board, and the president could summon his secretary to take notes or access files as needed to continue the operation of the railroad even while traveling. Less than a year after construction, the B&O assigned #99 to a vice president and renumbered it #98, and over the years passed it down to district superintendents and lesser railroad officials, before being retired by the B&O and sold to the first of two private owners in the mid-1960s. It eventually came to Chattanooga in the hands the second of those private owners (a local Industrialist), and he donated it to TVRM in December 1977. After its arrival, TVRM added the name “Eden Isle.”

2nd QTR 2017 web