Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Visit to Tennessee Central

If you've been wondering why there were fewer posts than usual for the past week or so, it's because we were on a road trip, taking the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville to Natchez.  That was great in and of itself, but I was also able to work in a visit to one railroad museum, the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, located near downtown Nashville.

This is a completely different model of railroad preservation from IRM.  The museum owns little property, and leases space in a railroad yard to store its equipment.  They depend on an excellent working relationship with a local shortline, the Nashville and Eastern, for their existence.  The group's main focus is on running scenic and dinner trains, on a route which is up to 108 miles one way.  The building seen above was the Nashville yard office and maintenance workshop for the NC&StL.  The museum has a nice website which you can visit to see more about it.

Inside there are some displays, and in the larger hall there are some extensive model layouts, and a nice setup for giving presentations to school and community groups.

We arrived on a Tuesday morning, so not much was happening with the equipment.  Two or three members were debugging something on the HO layout, but Gentleman Jim was happy to drop what he was doing and show us around, along with a couple of other visitors.

The main excursion consist was staged on the first track.  There are several tracks in the yard, and the south two of them are mostly occupied with museum equipment.  You have to take careful note of where the blue flags are placed.

We got to see the interior of the dome car.  This was built for the NP, and became part of Amtrak's heritage fleet.  It's been preserved in its Amtrak configuration, upholstery, and so on.

All of the cars used in service appear to be maintained to the highest standards.

I might point out that this dome car, and several other parts of the collection, are privately owned.

And here are some of the locomotives used in passenger service.  The website has good information on all of them, so I won't bother to repeat it.

And then the museum has acquired several other pieces for eventual restoration as time and money permit.

Including a Burlington E-9.  Now that looks familiar!

Here Gentleman Jim is opening their Operation Lifesaver caboose to show us the interior:

The thing that interested me most, of course, was in the worst condition.  This is Tennessee Central business car 102, built by Pullman in 1916 as the Palm Beach.  It has its own webpage with more information.  The museum built a roof structure to preserve the car, and it has been studied for eventual restoration, but this would be a huge project.

After its use as a business car ended, it was stored on a siding next to a cliff.  At some point there was a landslide of rocks which damaged one side of the car severely, but this went unnoticed for several years, because nobody could see the hidden side of the car.

The other side looks much better:

Looking up at the ceiling through an open window:

The interior needs work, of course, but is generally intact.

Someday we'll have to come back for an excursion trip.   The tour was very good, and everybody was very friendly.  There was no admission charge; they just ask for donations.

In Nashville's Centennial Park, near the Parthenon, a NC&StL Dixie class 4-8-4 is on display.  I first saw this engine about 1982, when I was working for Vanderbilt University.  

A local group that includes the Tennessee Central and the Nashville and Eastern is working to raise funds to restore the locomotive to operation.   They too have a website:

I noticed that somebody dropped the drawbar onto the ties.  That's why steel-toed shoes are a must in this business.

Opinions will vary on the aesthetics of the front end, but all in all, it's a beautiful locomotive.

And if you can ever tear yourself away from railroading,  I would highly recommend a nice relaxing trip along the Natchez Trace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had family around Nashville back in the 1960s and I used to visit that locomotive. A 4-8-4 was much bigger than anything we ever had on the long Island Rail Road!

The Trace is very scenic! And you got down there before it got too hot!


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