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 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.

Chattanooga Choo-Choo History


A challenge went out in 1900 by the architectural students at Beaux Arts Institute in Paris, France.  The students offered themselves a prize for the best plans which could be drawn up for a railroad station that would suit the needs of a large city.  The winner of the prize was Mr. Don Barber, an American from New York City.

In 1904, when the president of the Southern Railway decided to build a new passenger terminal in Chattanooga, one architect who offered an entry was none other than the same Mr. Barber.  When Southern Railway’s president saw Barber’s design, he was very much impressed.  He said he felt the exterior plans were perfect but asked Barber if he could possibly alter the interior design.  Upon this request, the Grand Dome was created.  It is completely free standing and rests on four major steel supports 75 feet apart.  The dome’s underside, which covered the 68 by 82 foot general waiting room, was decorated in artistic plaster embellishments of heraldic emblems.  For those nocturnal passengers who would frequent this 24 hour station, illumination was provided by four ornate brass chandeliers, each containing 40 lights and each centered by an 18-inch opal globe.  When these lights were on, the dome was truly lavish in its different prismatic colors.

On a bitterly cold winter morning, December 1, 1909, a crowd of several hundred gathered in the 1400 block of Market Street for the dedication of Chattanooga’s Terminal Station.  After serving Chattanooga for 61 years, the Southern Railway closed the building August 11, 1970.  It was purchased, restored, and reopened to the public in April 1973 and entered on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Dept. of Interior on January 25, 1974.

On March 5, 1880, the first passenger train connecting the north with the south traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio south to Chattanooga, Tennessee on the first municipal railroad, the Cincinnati Southern Line.  A reporter dubbed the train the “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” and Big Band leader Glenn Miller and the Modernaires immortalized this legendary train in song May 7, 1941.

When the Southern Railway closed this magnificent architectural icon on August 11, 1970, a piece of Chattanooga was forever lost.  Thankfully, it was spared the wrecking ball as so many others were not as fortunate.  These following photos surely tell a story of a more pristine time–a time when traveling by rail was so much more relaxing compared to today.  Hopefully, these photos will stir many a long lost memory.

Photo Credit: Copyright 2009, Justin W. Strickland, “Images of Rail – Chattanooga’s Terminal Station.”

Rock on Trains © 2018, 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.

50 year commemoration: Southern Railway No. 4501

TVRMLOGOtransparentTennessee Valley Railroad Museum‘s quarterly “Smoke & Cinders” newsletter, Volume 53, No. 2,  included a special writeup on the commemoration of Southern Railway No. 4501’s movement to Chattanooga in 1954 — fifty years ago!

It begins:

On Saturday, June 7, 2014, an important milestone was commemorated: An event that took place fifty years ago and ultimately (if unintentionally) influenced the Southern Railway to return steam locomotives to their lines.

The full writeup begins on Page 3.  (Click the small images below to view the full-size newsletter pages.)

Until next month,


Southern Railway No. 4501 Rebuild Update #5

southern-railway-logoIt’s time for another update on the Southern Railway No. 4501 Rebuild from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum‘s “Smoke & Cinders” newsletter.  (Click the small images below to view the full-size newsletter pages.)

The introduction reads:

STEAM UP! — In early March, and for the first time in sixteen years, Locomotive #4501 had a fire in its firebox.  Several years of work went into getting the boiler to this level of completion and it passed its steam test for the FRA.  After checking out the boiler, the locomotive was rolled back into the shop to continue its reassembly.  Smoke from the stack was an impressive sight, but there would still be plenty of work to be done before the engine could undergo actual operational testing.  Each week it seems that more “task items” are erased from the white board by TVRM’s very talented craftsmen.  (All photos by Steve Freer unless otherwise noted.)


Southern Railway No. 4501 Rebuild Update #4

Yet another update on the Southern Railway No. 4501 Rebuild from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum‘s “Smoke & Cinders” newsletter:

southern-railway-logoSTEAM RESOLUTION – Work continued on #4501 throughout the Fourth Quarter of 2013.  As the calendar clicked over to the New Year, many tasks had been marked off the Project 4501 to-do list.  All flues, tubes, and superheater elements and the final driving wheel had been installed, firebox arch tubes inserted, and a hydrostatic test of the boiler concluded. With the hydro complete, attention was turned toward a long list of details including installation of appliances, application of air, steam, and lubrication lines, and much more.  When finished in a few months, #4501 will be what Southern Railway envisioned the locomotive to be had they completed similar updtes done to many of their other Ms Class Mikados.  In anticipation of adding a feedwater heater, Southern incorporated a plate into the new steam chest installed in 1945, which would allow attachment of steam lines for the heater.  This long-ago planned performance upgrade was never completed…until now.  Blank areas on the cylinder saddles had to be machined for attachment of pipes by TVRM’s restoration crew, but without Southern’s plan for the future this would not have been possible.  When she rolls out of Soule Shops in East Chattanooga, the locomotive will be more efficient and powerful.  Only a few short years ago, many thought this locomotive would never run again.  Now we’ll be privileged to witness an all-new, never-before-seen #4501 roar to life!  (All photos by Steve Freer unless otherwise noted.)


4501 Restoration #4 Pg 1

4501 Restoration #4 Pg 1

4501 Restoration #4 Pg 2

4501 Restoration #4 Pg 2

4501 Restoration #4 Pg 3

4501 Restoration #4 Pg 3

Kentucky & Tennessee #12(Ex-Southern Rwy #4501) @ Stearns KY - 1962 (Credit: Tom Gildersleeve)

Kentucky & Tennessee #12(Ex-Southern Rwy #4501) @ Stearns KY – 1962 (Credit: Tom Gildersleeve)

Southern Railway No. 4501 Rebuild Update #3

It’s time for another update on the Southern Railway No. 4501 Rebuild from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum‘s “Smoke & Cinders” newsletter:

southern-railway-logoBig Wheels, Bigger Work – Even though casual onlookers might not notice without closer examination, restoration has been moving ahead steadily on Southern #4501. Employees, volunteers, and contractors have been toiling away on everything from front to back and top to bottom on the locomotive. During the week of August 26, a milestone was reached as three of the four driving wheel axles were reinstalled into the frame. (The fourth set’s insertion would be delayed until further firebox work could be completed.) Much of the progress up to this point seemed to be less noticeable on a daily basis, but when the driving wheels went back under the boiler, that made a major visual impact. Each axle was installed individually over the drop pit after the frame was positioned properly and the yellow rail bridge moved (seen in photo). The overhead crane was used to lift each wheelset onto the hydraulic jack inside the pit. Then the jack was rolled under the frame and the axle raised into position. Although this sounds easy, it is a tedious process with every close clearance tolerances, which makes it tricky to say the least. The shop crew was glad to finally get some driving wheels back under #4501. More images of wheel installation are on page 2, and additional work is shown on pages 3 and 4. When she rolls out of Soule Shops in 2014, TVRM will have quite a workhorse to be enjoyed by thousands (millions?) of fans in Chattanooga and throughout NS lineside communities.  (All photos by Steve Freer unless otherwise noted.)

4501 Restoration Update #3 Pg 1


4501 Restoration Update #3 Pg 2

4501 Restoration Update #3 Pg 3

4501 Restoration Update #3 Pg 4

K&T #12 Ex-Southern Railway #4501 - (Credit: Hawkinsrails)

K&T #12 Ex-Southern Railway #4501 – (Credit: Hawkinsrails)