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.
A JOURNEY THROUGH THE TENNESSEE VALLEY RAILROAD MUSEUM'S HISTORY
Follow our dedicated team as they breathe new life into historic locomotives, ensuring their stories are preserved for future generations.
Stay updated with our exciting calendar of events – from seasonal train rides to special celebrations, there’s always something happening at TVRM.
Dive into the rich history of the railroad industry and the essential role it played in shaping our nation, from early development to modern times.
Explore living history at TVRM: restored locomotives and railcars narrate the story of rail’s impact, keeping the past alive for future generations.
Explore the fascinating exhibits at TVRM, each one offering unique insights into different aspects of railway technology, history, and culture.
Explore railroading at TVRM with exclusive behind-the-scenes content. Discover updates, staff insights, and the preservation of railway history.
LATEST NEWS & UPDATES
Explore History on the Chickamauga Turn Train Trip Are you ready for an enchanting train journey that combines the allure of travel with the richness of history? The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s Chickamauga Turn offers just that – a captivating day trip to Chickamauga, Georgia, brimming with historical charm and comfort. What to Expect on…
February 22, 2024
Celebrating 100 Years: The Journey of Southern Railway Dining Car No. 3158 A Century of Service – TVRM’s former Southern Railway Dining Car No. 3158 has long held the record of being the oldest continuously operating dining car in the country, and today that record enters triple digits, as the venerable 78 foot long, 87-ton…
February 21, 2024
A Culinary Experience: Dinner in the Depot Event As the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) gears up for our much-anticipated “Dinner in the Depot,” we’re proud to blend a culinary experience with the charm of railroading heritage. Our guests will not only indulge in the opulence of the bygone era of rail travel but also…
February 15, 2024