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.



Tennessee Aquarium To Get Monster Fish Exhibit

Any angler knows that success often depends on great partners, timing, and a little bit of luck. Those same ingredients have come together to land a super-sized, special exhibition in Chattanooga this fall. “Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants,” a National Geographic exhibition, will open on October 1 in the River Place building adjacent to the Tennessee Aquarium’s ... (click for more)

The Tennessee Aquarium’s 2016 Serve And Protect Event Is Sept 15

The Tennessee Aquarium and several of Chattanooga’s top restaurants are gearing up for the Serve and Protect event on Thursday, Sept. 15. It takes a lot of preparation to organize a special evening that pairs a live cooking show with an elegant seafood dinner in one of the Aquarium’s galleries.  Longtime friends, chefs Virginia Willis and Tamie Cook, will make mouths water ... (click for more)

State Board In Nashville Approves New Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital

Members of the board of the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency in Nashville on Wednesday unanimously approved a new $25 million Behavioral Health Hospital planned by Erlanger Health Systems on Holzclaw Avenue.   Parkridge Valley Hospital and CADAS had opposed the issuance of Certificate of Need.  The 88-bed facility will provide "acute adult inpatient ... (click for more)

Pinkston Says Offer Was Made To Dismiss Lawsuit Against Him If Prosecution Of Detective Burns Was Dropped; Judge Greenholtz "Greatly Bothered" By Any Such Offer

District Attorney Neal Pinkston said at a hearing Tuesday that an offer was made to drop a lawsuit filed against him by Gatlinburg detective Rodney Burns if he would dismiss two perjury counts against Burns. The district attorney said he should not be disqualified from continuing to prosecute the case or else attorneys would begin suing him or the judge to get a new DA or trial ... (click for more)

Downtown Needs Cleaned Up

My son and I parked on Broad Street and walked to the Billiard Club on Cherry Street this past weekend. It's probably a total of two blocks. In that short walk we passed where Rone Regency used to be on 6th Street and in that doorway was about a years worth of human feces and urine covering the doors and walls. The concrete sidewalk on the street is all broken up and the metal ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Ooltewah & The Bullies

During the week of Christmas I got an email from a longtime friend at the Knoxville News-Sentinel that laughingly wondered what kind of basketball do you people play (in Chattanooga?) It included sketchy details of the rape, and subsequent surgery, of an Ooltewah High School basketball player who had been assaulted by his own teammates at a Gatlinburg holiday tournament. Today ... (click for more)