The Tennessee Valley Railroad is a heritage railway company that was established in 1961. Unusually for a heritage railway, it was not formed to preserve a particular route or railway line from closing down. Initially it was designed to be a museum, preserving whatever railway equipment was donated to them.
But in 1969, the company was given a 4-acre railway yard, as the Southern Railroad had built a new one, and so no longer had use for it. Using this site, the Tennessee Valley Railroad was able to construct an operational line for its steam locomotives, as well as a fine place to store and maintain them. A bridge had to be constructed to restore the track between the depot and the Cromwell Road terminus six miles away, which proved to be a lengthy process. The line was operational in 1977 and has been a great success, proving popular with all ages as an experience of the bygone age of steam.
Our trip on the Tennessee Valley Railroad begins at the Grand Junction Station in Chattanooga, which is a modern replica of the station in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Hauled by either a steam or vintage diesel locomotive, we take the Missionary Ridge route on a 55 minute round trip to East Chattanooga Depot and back. The journey takes us through one of Tennessee's oldest railroad tunnels, which was constructed in the mid-19th century. We also witness the locomotive turning around using the Tennessee Valley Railroad's turntable at the East Chattanooga Depot and enjoy a guided tour of the maintenance and restoration shop where the railroad's historic locomotives are repaired, repainted and rebuilt.