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Central of Georgia Railway 390

Reviving Rail History: The Remarkable Journey of the Central of Georgia Railway 390

Crafted in 1947 by the esteemed American Car & Foundry, the Central of Georgia Railway 390 holds a distinctive place in the annals of rail history. Distinguished for its singular design, it stands out in the collection of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) as a unique lightweight coach-baggage combination car, a symbol of utilitarian elegance.

The 390 was not simply another face in the railcar crowd. It was an essential component of the illustrious Nancy Hanks II, a distinguished passenger train that travelled daily from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. This consist included an assortment of coaches, including the museum’s 661 and 662, and a partition coach, often the 907, which also reside within the TVRM’s collection, accompanied by coach 660, and in the early years coach 664; plus a grill-lounge car, either 690 or 691.

As the years passed, the Central of Georgia Railway was absorbed into the mighty Southern Railway, with combine 390 becoming Southern Railway 726. During this ownership, it carved a niche for itself in the Southern Railway Steam Excursion Program, where it emerged from anonymity to achieve fame as an audio recording car. The spacious baggage area of this versatile vehicle was expertly repurposed to capture the symphony of the steam locomotives as they tackled their rigorous tasks, including Southern Railway 630 and Southern Railway 4501, both of which are noteworthy constituents of TVRM’s present collection. For this work, the baggage room had 2 recording windows added, railings in the baggage doors, and 110 volt A.C. outlets added for recording (at this time the 390/726 and most railcars were still 32 volt D.C.). In 1982 the car passed to the Norfolk Southern Corporation, eventually being repainted Tuscan Red. With the conclusion of the steam program in 1994, the Western Maryland Scenic Railway acquired the historic combine car.

In 2019, the Western Maryland Scenic Railway bestowed the Central of Georgia Railway 390 to TVRM. With immense respect for its history, the 390 underwent a meticulous restoration process to reclaim its original number and paint scheme. Upon completion in 2020, it was triumphantly returned to service, its gleaming presence a testament to a rich past and a future filled with possibilities.


Car: Central of Georgia Railway 390

Car Type: Coach-Baggage Combine

Operators: Central of Georgia Railway, Southern Railway, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

Builder: American Car & Foundry

Date Built: 1947

Number of Seats: 54

Paint Scheme: Blue and Gray

Lettered: Central of Georgia

Status: Operational