Railfest 2015 is going to be bigger and steamier than ever before
All aboard! It’s that time again...when the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) sponsors what Chattanooga is best known for: trains! Railfest 2015 is the major celebration of all things trains, where you can ride the actual behemoths from old time to modern day. Started in 2011, this year’s Railfest will feature trains running throughout each day at the Museum and the adjacent Norfolk Southern (NS) mainline.
A ticket purchase will include such things as train rides on TVRM’s Missionary Ridge Local from Grand Junction to the East Chattanooga Depot, blacksmith demonstrations, rolling stock exhibits, live entertainment, model railroads, and more. Festival food vendors will be on site, so you won’t go hungry. The gift shop will be open for all your train memento needs.
NS will be providing two specially painted commemorative locomotives for display. One of these modern diesel locomotives is painted to honor veterans, while the other is a 9-1-1 tribute to first responders such as police, fire and EMT personnel. These very large engines are known as “road units.” In honor of the brave men who were murdered on July 16, the event will offer free admission to our first responders and active duty military personnel.
NS will also be showing Exhibit Car #27, which highlights the history of NS, including all of the other merged railroads that make up today’s Norfolk Southern Railway. One very special feature of the car is the locomotive simulator that allows a person to sit in the engineer’s seat and interactively operate a simulated train.
The Southern Railway Engine #4501, beautifully restored at Soule Shops within the TVRM East Chattanooga Depot, is back. It will make four special excursions to Cleveland and back. (Upgraded ticket required). Departure times will be 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. This will be the first excursion undertaken by the #4501 since its restoration. The train will travel north over NS mainline toward Knoxville.
This will be a rare treat, riding an actual steam-pulled passenger train (without diesel assist) on NS Class 1 “main line” tracks at speeds up to 40 mph. The round-trip will take approximately three hours.
Children’s activities will be featured including coloring pages, play tables, a bounce house, magic demonstrations and a petting zoo. Pony rides and “crank cars” will be available for a small additional charge. Many operating model railroads will be on display both outside and upstairs in the Grand Junction Station.
Live entertainment will continue throughout both days with performances by local band No Big Deal and NS house band The Lawmen.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is the Southeast’s largest operating historical museum, whose mission is to preserve railroading history for future generations.
Railfest 2015 will be held Saturday, Sept. 12 from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Enter at the Grand Junction Station, located at 4119 Cromwell Road. Parking is free. Cost for daily entry is $25 for adults and $20 for children ages 3-12. For more information and tickets, visit tvrail.com or call (423) 894-8028.