The mission of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) is to collect for preservation, operation, interpretation, and display railroad artifacts in an authentic setting to educate the public concerning the role of railroads in the history and development of our region.
About the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
Chattanooga welcomed its first rail line with the arrival of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1850. A few years later, in 1858, the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad also arrived in Chattanooga. The city quickly became a railroad hub with industries springing up in the area to take advantage of the new transportation corridors.
During the Civil War, confederate and union leaders recognized Chattanooga’s strategic advantage because of its railroads, and in subsequent decades, the city’s railroad reputation gave rise to the iconic song “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”
By the late 1950s, railroads were waning as interstates and airlines made travel faster and more personal. With automobiles, Americans could choose their own schedule and stop as little or much as they wished. Passenger operations all but ended in the 1960s, and freight operations suffered as big trucks hauled much of the freight across the country.
During this period, railroad museums formed to save some of the histories of this most iconic mode of American transportation.
In Chattanooga, as steam made its last appearances on the country’s major railroads, a few railroad fans began buying steam engines and passenger cars that the railroads would otherwise have scrapped. This small collection was the beginning of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, which was founded in 1961 by a small group of local residents who were intent on trying to save some American history by preserving, restoring, and operating authentic railway equipment from the “Golden Age of Railroading.”
Railroads like the Southern Railway also made generous donations of obsolete rail cars to museums like TVRM, expanding their collections and the story the museum could tell. In addition, Southern Railway donated the original East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia roadbed (absorbed into the Southern Railway System in 1894) on which TVRM could operate.
TVRM’s passenger trains run on the historic route, which includes Missionary Ridge Tunnel, completed in 1858 and on the National Register of Historic Places. The tunnel is the primary reason TVRM runs on the 3-mile section of the former Southern Railway. As railroad equipment grew too large to pass through and the single-track tunnel became a traffic jam for an otherwise double-track railroad, Southern Railway abandoned the 3-mile portion of the line and built a new section around the end of Missionary Ridge, avoiding the tunnel altogether.
Today, TVRM preserves railroad equipment not only to preserve machines but to preserve an experience as well. In providing this historical experience, TVRM hopes to educate our visitors about the importance of this industry and how it helped create the modern world in which we live.
The Historic Couey House: A Testament to Resilience and Craftsmanship in Chattooga County In the serene landscapes of north Georgia, one would find monuments to early American history – few as compelling as the Couey House. Constructed in the 1840s by Andrew M. Solland Couey, this house stands as one of the first pioneer homes…
October 3, 2023
The Historic Summerville Railroad Turntable: A Testament to the Golden Age of Railroads In the heart of Summerville lies a relic from a bygone era, a testament to the days when railroads were the lifeblood of commerce and travel. The Summerville Railroad Turntable, a massive 90-ton steel structure, stands as a symbol of the golden…
October 1, 2023
Breathing New Life into the F7A: Inside the Restoration of TVRM 576 Last month, the workshops at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum buzzed with renewed energy as a brand new project chugged into its care – the recently acquired F7A, christened TVRM 576. This locomotive, a vestige of rail history and engineering prowess, has now embarked…
September 30, 2023
A Heartfelt Thank You and an Important Announcement for Our Train Enthusiasts Hello to all our dedicated train enthusiasts and followers! First and foremost, from the very depths of our hearts, we want to extend a massive thank you. Your unwavering support and enthusiasm, especially as we’ve restarted our beloved excursions into Northwest Georgia, have…
September 28, 2023
The Rails of History: “The Last Days of Frank & Jesse James” at TVRM 1986 marked the release of a distinctive movie titled “The Last Days of Frank & Jesse James.” Filmed at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) in 1985, this cinematic gem boasts a star-studded cast with music legends Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson,…
September 22, 2023
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September 18, 2023