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.
Resurrecting a Legend: The Journey of Southern Railway 630 Steam Engine
A marvel of engineering from the dawn of the 20th century, the Southern Railway 630 has an engaging tale etched in its steel. Crafted by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) in 1904, this locomotive took to the tracks under the Class K designation, featuring a 2-8-0 wheel arrangement, often known as a ‘Consolidation’.
In its infancy, the 630 ran without superheaters, equipped with Stephenson valve gear and flat valves. However, the year 1917 marked a significant evolution in its journey as it received an upgrade, incorporating superheaters, piston valves, and the Southern Valve Gear. This upgrade enhanced its classification to a Ks-1. Serving the Southern Railway for a commendable 48 years, the 630 primarily found its home on the Asheville Division, plying the Murphy and Lake Toxaway Branches until its retirement in June 1952.
Following its tenure with the Southern Railway, the 630 found a new life with the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad in Johnson City, Tennessee. Here it was rechristened as the 207 and worked the route between Johnson City and Elizabethton.
A new chapter began in 1967, when the Southern Railway regained possession of the 630 in exchange for a diesel locomotive. This was to incorporate the engine into the burgeoning Southern Railway Steam Excursion Program. The 630 continued to star on the mainline until 1978, when the growing length of trains exceeded the capacity of this gallant steam engine. This period saw the Southern Railway favoring larger, more powerful locomotives, such as the Southern Railway 4501 and Southern 610, for the heftier trains.
In 1978, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) became the custodian of the 630 under a lease agreement with the Southern (later Norfolk Southern) Railway. It remained operational until November 1989, when it was retired due to a need for major overhaul.
The new millennium heralded a revival for the 630. Norfolk Southern donated the locomotive to TVRM in 1999, and restoration began in 2001. After a decade of restoration work, and an investment of approximately $750,000, the Southern Railway 630 triumphantly returned to service in 2011. This incredible transformation has been hailed as one of the most comprehensive overhauls of a steam locomotive since the conclusion of the steam era.
Today, the Southern Railway 630 takes pride of place at the TVRM. It serves as motive power for the Missionary Ridge Local, and occasionally for the Summerville Steam Special, a testament to the enduring spirit of steam locomotives and a rich heritage preserved for future generations.
Locomotive: Southern Railway 630
Locomotive Type: Steam
Operators: Southern Railway, East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
Builder: American Locomotive Company
Builders Number: 28446
Date Built: 1904
Date Retired: 1967 (Revenue Service), 1989 (1st Excursion Service)
Date Rebuilt: 1968 (1st Restoration), 2011 (2nd Restoration)
Wheel Arrangement: 2-8-0 Consolidation
Driver Diameter: 56 in
Locomotive Weight: 214,000 lb
Boiler Pressure: 190 psi
Cylinder Size: 24 in x 30 in
Valve Gear: Southern
Tractive Effort: 46,700 lbf
Paint Scheme: Black