Southern Railway Engine #6910

In 1960, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum was founded by Paul H. Merriman and Robert M. Soule along with a group of local railway preservationists who were concerned with saving steam locomotives and railway equipment for future historical display and use. In 1964, Mr. Merriman and Mr. Soule found out that the Kentucky & Tennessee Railroad was converting to diesel. With this in mind, they raised $5,000.00 and purchased K&T Nos. 10 & 12. The latter of the two engines originally belonged to the Southern Railway as 4501. Engine No. 10 was renumbered 6910. It ran for a short while after restoration. In October 1965, the engine made a fan trip to Cleveland, Tennessee from Chattanooga. I thoroughly enjoyed working with this engine back in 1978 & 1981. Currently, the engine is in storage at the TVRM.

The silent video of this historic trip is courtesy of HawkinsRails.net via YouTube.


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Depot Doings: Oliver Springs, TN / Bryson City, NC / Decherd, TN / Chatsworth, GA

Featured Southern Railway depots this month are Oliver Springs, Tennessee (1980), and Bryson City, North Carolina (1978). The Oliver Springs and Bryson City depots have been restored. The Oliver Springs depot houses the Oliver Springs Historical Society, and the Bryson City depot houses the Great Smoky Mountain Railway excursions.

Featured Louisville & Nashville (L&N) Railway depots are Decherd, Tennessee (1978), and Chatsworth, Georgia (1980). The Decherd depot has been removed from service, and the Chatsworth depot was relocated and restored in 1990. It currently houses a museum of railroad and talc industry memorabilia.

Southern Railway Depot: Oliver Springs, TN – 1980 (Credit: Tom Rock)

Southern Railway Depot: Bryson City, NC – 1978 (Credit: Tom Rock)

L&N Railway Depot: Decherd, TN – 1978 (Credit: Tom Rock)

L&N Railway Depot: Chatsworth, GA – 1980 (Credit: Tom Rock)


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Canadian Corner: Toronto Steam

Featured subjects this month are Canadian Pacific and Canadian National steam locomotives. These photos were taken in the early 1950’s at the John Street Roundhouse (CPR) and the Spadina Roundhouse (CNR) in Toronto, Ontario.

CPR No. 2806 at the John St Roundhouse (Credit: Walter Taylor)

CNR No. 5565 at the Spadina St Roundhouse (Credit: Walter Taylor)

CNR Nos. 6066 & 6069 at the Spadina St Roundhouse (Credit: Walter Taylor)

CNR Roundhouse and yards at Spadina St (Credit: Walter Taylor)


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

“Pardon Me Boy, Is That the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?”

This blog entry features my 1991 painting of the the Southern Railway’s Terminal Station in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The title of this painting, “Pardon Me Boy, Is That the Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” was chosen to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Glenn Miller’s big band era hit song which was recorded May 7, 1941. This painting, which is comprised of two images, shows the majestic building front as viewed from Market Street and the rear where the trains departed, reviving a more tranquil time in railroad history.

By the 1970’s, declining rail traffic to Chattanooga forced Southern Railway to close the doors of Terminal Station. The Birmingham Special, Train No. 18, became the last regular passenger train to pass through Terminal Station. On August 11, 1970, at 11:35PM, the Birmingham Special departed Terminal Station and headed for Washington, DC. The windows of the station were boarded up, as its once immaculate interior began collecting dust. The abandoned station faced the sad prospects of demolition.

Fortunately, a group of two dozen local investors had a much better idea for the old station; the investors obtained the property from Southern Railway, and with an initial investment of 10 million dollars, converted the old Terminal Station into a family vacation complex second to none.

My two images of the Choo-Choo took five (5) months and 325 hours to complete. I’m including several development photos taken during its creation. When my lithographs were released in 1991, I mailed a set to Jonnie Miller Soper (Glenn Miller’s daughter) along with Paula Kelly Turner and Tex Beneke, both singers of Glenn Miller’s famous song. Not long after the prints were mailed, I received very nice thank you notes from all three recipients (see images below). Unfortunately, Paula (d.1992) and Tex (d.2000) have passed away, but Jonnie is still living. This 8-minute video clip on YouTube shows Tex and Paula performing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo song.

“Choo-Choo” rear Preliminary Development Photo

“Choo-Choo” rear at 30 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” rear at 56 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” rear at 122 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” rear at 150 hrs development (complete)

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.

“Choo-Choo” front Preliminary Development Photo

“Choo-Choo” front at 30 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” front at 90 hrs development

“Choo-Choo” front at 175 hrs development (complete)

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.

Paula Kelly Turner thank you letter

Tex Beneke thank you letter

Jonnie Miller Soper thank you letter

Click here to visit Rock on Trains and view/purchase your “Choo-Choo” print set.

Thank you for your interest!


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Depot Doings: Merriton, Newmarket, Penetang, Port Hope, Prescott, Stouffville, Uxbridge, & Washego, Ontario, Canada

cnr-logoFeatured Canadian National Railway depots this month are at various Ontario locations:

All photos courtesy of www.rr-fallenflags.org/.


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Canadian Corner: Ontario Steam

Featured subjects this month are a mix of Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, and New York Central steam locomotives photographed at various locations across Ontario:

CNR No. 5701 – Kitchener, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

CNR No. 6233 – Reclamation Yard, Stratford, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

CPR No. 2398 – Johns St. Roundhouse, Toronto, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

CPR No. 2818 – Departing Windsor, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

CPR No. 3002 – Jubilee in the yard, Windsor, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)

NYC No. 5372 – Departing Windsor, Ontario (Credit: Unknown)


Rock on Trains © 2020, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions.  All rights reserved.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.

Looking Back: “Journey to Steam’s Final Hour”

Looking back at my first couple of blog posts–August 2011!  Where did the time go?  Thank you loyal followers for joining me on this journey.  Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy 2020…

“Steam’s Final Hour” by Tom Rock

My name is Tom Rock.  I am a self-taught train artist; I’ve been painting railroad scenes since 1972.  Here at Rock on Trains, I will share with you, the reader, the background information on each one of my paintings.  I began lithographing my work in 1988, but in today’s blog entry, you’ll learn about my 1994 painting, Steam’s Final Hour.

When I first started painting trains, it never occurred to me that I’d be penning such a historic scene.  The historical perspective associated with Steam’s Final Hour actually goes back to the fall of 1991.  While I was participating in an art show on the grounds of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, I met Mr. John Reese.  As we conversed, I learned that John was a retired Southern Railway conductor who worked the Royal Palm out of Terminal Station.

We kept in close contact over the next few years.  In the fall of 1993, he invited me to display my art at an upcoming World War II retired military railroader’s convention which was to be held in Chattanooga.  I did not know what to expect at the convention, but John reassured me that my work would certainly be welcomed. My confidence soared after reminiscing with many trainmen at the event.  John then introduced me to Mr. Ralph Clevenger, who served as the brakeman on the last Southern steam engine on June 17, 1953.

Listening to this historical icon speak provided the inspiration for my next painting; I would paint the scene that Ralph was a part of in June 1953. This piece would be released in 1994 — the Southern Railroad’s 100th anniversary, and also the final year of the Southern’s steam program.  This image could not be more fitting.  I informed Ralph of my plans for my new painting and asked if he would countersign my prints.  He agreed, but proceeded to tell me not to forget Clarence. Clarence McMahan served alongside Ralph as the flagman on the final Southern steam engine.

Clarence McMahan, Tom Rock, Ralph Clevenger

As time passes, so do precious souls; Mr. McMahan passed away a few years ago, and Mr. Clevenger passed away 3 months ago.  Steam’s Final Hour is a fitting tribute to hard working railroad men like Ralph and Clarence.  Their legacy will live on forever.

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.

Below are photos taken during the painting’s development.  In my next entry, I hope to share video clips from the print signing.  Enjoy!

Preliminary layout for “Steam’s Final Hour”

“Steam’s Final Hour” at 60 hrs development

“Steam’s Final Hour” at 110 hrs development

“Steam’s Final Hour” at 162 hrs development

“Steam’s Final Hour” at 206 hrs development

“Steam’s Final Hour” (complete)

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.

I hope you enjoyed your behind-the-scenes tour of Steam’s Final Hour.  There was something symbolic about that Wednesday afternoon in June — the best of steam power, represented by the 6330, giving way to the best of diesel power.  On Wednesday, June 17, 1953, at 3:00PM, an era — an age, an epoch — ended.  It is like we shall never see again.

To conclude this historical journey, I’m sharing several photos taken on that memorable day:

Ralph Clevenger taking water at Montlake, Tennessee.  (Credit: Chattanooga Times)

The 6330 Crew from L-R: J.E. Griffey, fireman; A.R. Clevenger, brakeman; C.D. McMahan, flagman, Harry H. Houghton, conductor, and C.F. Case, engineer. (Credit: Mr. Howard Olmstead, courtesy of the Southern Railway Historical Association)

The 6330 on 6.17.1953 in Citico Yards. (Credit: Mr. Herman Lamb)

The 6330 on 6.17.1953 in Citico Yards. (Credit: Mr. Herman Lamb)

The 6330 on 6.17.1953 in Citico Yards. (Credit: Mr. Herman Lamb)

The 6330 on 6.17.1953 in Citico Yards. (Credit: Mr. Herman Lamb)

Click here to view footage from the print signing on November 19, 1994.

Click here to view/purchase this print at Rock on Trains.


Rock on Trains © 2019, Tom Rock + T.D.R. Productions.  All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Tom Rock is strictly prohibited.