IF YOU GO
• What: Railfest
• When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7
• Where: Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, 4119 Cromwell Road
• Admission: $20 adults, $15 children per day (extra charge for some activities)
• Phone: 423-894-8028
• Website: www.tvrail.com
Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum officials have an extra reason to celebrate at Railfest this weekend. The annual festival of railroading will mark the return of TVRM’s iconic Steam Locomotive 4501 to operation.
Restoration work has been ongoing for the past three years. The locomotive last ran in 1998. Restoration specialists at TVRM began the project in 2011, and the overhaul has continued nonstop since then.
“The 4501 has now rolled out of Soule Shops in East Chattanooga looking better than ever,” says a news release. “After testing and various final adjustments, the locomotive will make its public debut at the Railfest celebration.”
TVRM spokesman Steve Freer says it’s a dream come true.
“Many of us at TVRM grew up riding behind 4501 — often simply referred to as ‘the 01’ — and loved every minute of it,” he says. “With the diminishing demand for main-line rail excursions in the 1990s, 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 will include train rides, special exhibits, model railroads, children’s activities, live entertainment and other activities.