TVRM’s Historic Steam Locomotive #4501 Is Ready For Tennessee Valley Railfest

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) on Wednesday announced the return of its iconic Steam Locomotive 4501 to operation. TVRM has been restoring Locomotive 4501 over the past three  years and she will make her public debut at Tennessee Valley Railfest on Sept. 6 and 7. 

The locomotive last ran in 1998 and has patiently waited for a complete overhaul.  The locomotive restoration specialists at TVRM began the project in 2011 and it has continued nonstop since then.  The 4501 has now rolled out of Soule Shops in East Chattanooga looking better than ever. After  testing and various final adjustments, the locomotive will make its public debut at the Railfest celebration.

“This is a dream come true,” said TVRM spokesperson Steve Freer.  “Many of us at TVRM grew up riding behind 4501 (often simply referred to as “the 01”) and loved every minute of it.  With the diminishing demand for main line rail excursions in the 1990’s, large locomotives were relegated to storage or display.  However, 4501 is returning to active operation.  It is a great day for TVRM and we are thrilled to make this example of living history available to the public.” 

Railfest is an annual celebration of railroading at TVRM, which includes train rides, special exhibits, interesting displays, model railroads, children’s activities, live entertainment, and more.  The debut of Locomotive 4501 will feature a public dedication at at Railfest.  Tickets for Railfest on Sept. 6 and 7 are only $20 adults and $15 children (per day) and are available online at www.tvrail.com.

Locomotive 4501 has an interesting history:  She was built for Southern Railway in 1911 and worked for 37 years before being forced out of service by a wave of modern diesel locomotives.  Instead of being scrapped as so many other steamers were, 4501 was sold in 1948 to the Kentucky and Tennessee Railway in Stearns, Kentucky, to haul coal from mines served by the K&T.  After 16 years serving the K&T, 4501 was sold to Chattanooga railroad enthusiast Paul Merriman in 1964.  Merriman was a TVRM founder and president at the time, and brought Locomotive 4501 to Chattanooga for display and possible operation. 

This is just what the fledgling museum needed, as 4501 was a highly visible symbol of steam railroading.  Shortly thereafter, Southern Railway leased the engine from TVRM to be used throughout their system as a roving ambassador and to pull public rail excursions, which continued until 1994. 

Back at home in Chattanooga, TVRM was able to operate the locomotive until its boiler certification ran out in 1998.  Since other steam locomotives were operating at TVRM at the time, 4501 rested in semi-retirement until 2011 when Norfolk Southern inaugurated its “21st Century Steam” program. 21st Century Steam is a program of excursions for Norfolk Southern employees and the general public, utilizing steam locomotives on a limited number of trips on Norfolk Southern rail lines.  TVRM’s Locomotive 630 has been participating in the program since 2011, and now with the help of many contributors, including Norfolk Southern, 4501 will join the program in 2015.

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is a non-profit, educational organization founded by volunteers in 1961 with a mission to preserve, restore, and operate historic railway equipment.  Trains operate within Chattanooga daily in season with many additional special events and excursion trips throughout each year.  Every ticket sold is a fundraiser to keep the history of American railroading alive and available for the public to experience.  For more information and schedules, please visit www.tvrail.com.



Ladies Of Lee To Sing At Enchanted Garden Of Lights

The Ladies of Lee, an all-female choir from Lee University, will provide Christmas music for “Lee University Night” at Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights 20th Anniversary Celebration on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the North Pole Lodge (Rock City’s Pavilion), located in Lookout Mountain, Ga. The choir, composed of approximately 40 women, travels throughout the eastern United States ... (click for more)

Christmas Comes To Tennessee

Tennessee’s upcoming tourism news is consolidated for your convenience below. For a complete list of Tennessee events, visit  tnvacation.com/calendar . Nov. 15 Chattanooga –  See a special semi-staged opera production of “ Pirates of Penzance ” performed by the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera  7:30 p.m.  at the Tivoli Theatre. Nov. 16-17 ... (click for more)

Dog Saves Woman From Fire At Highway 58 Area

A homeowner reported that her dog saved her life early Friday morning. At 12:52 a.m. , the homeowner called 911 reporting a fire at 8411 Providence Road (Highway 58 area). The Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded and arrived reporting a log cabin with flames coming through the roof. Firefighters worked quickly to contain the fire, but it was a challenge due to  ... (click for more)

Bradley County Police Investigating Shooting

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that occurred in the area of Georgetown Road.  A BCSO officer was waved down at the intersection of 25 th Street and Peerless Road by the driver of a vehicle who told the officer a gunshot victim was inside. The officer followed the car to SkyRidge Medical Center. Several people soon arrived at the ... (click for more)

Don't Be Quick To Discard Common Core

Let's not be too quick to discard Common Core. A recent article in the Tennessean on  Sunday detailed Common Core successes the Kingsport, Tennessee school system.  I encourage you to read it.  The article also noted that Tennessee was recently ranked as one of the fastest improving states in education after implementing portions of the Common Core curriculum ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Tubman Goat-Roping

Every spring there comes a bright day on the ranch when the straw-boss decrees a goat-roping should take place. What really happens is the veteran cowboys arm the greenhorns with some lariats late in the afternoon and take them to the pen that holds some Billy goats. This is before they get into bigger beasts -- horses and cattle – yet what appears to be easy most certainly is not. ... (click for more)