Hit the rails

Whether it be steam or diesel that strikes your fancy, there are plenty of nearby railroad museums for train enthusiasts. Throughout Tennessee and Kentucky, more than a half dozen museums await exploration by anxious railroad buffs.

Big South Fork Scenic Railway

Coal once ruled the rails of the Kentucky and Tennessee Railway, which operated from the early 1900s until 1987.

Today, the Big South Fork Scenic Railway operates trains over the scenic line located in the Appalachian Mountains. Trains leave from a restored freight house and travel along streams and bluffs.

Ticket prices range from $7.50 for children to $15 for adults. For information, call (800) GO-ALONG or visit www.bsfsry.com.

Blue Grass Railroad Museum

Located about 15 miles from Lexington, Ky., between Versailles, Ky., and the Kentucky River, the Blue Grass Railroad Museum operates trains across 5 1/2 miles of track.

Built in the 1880s by the Louisville Southern Railroad, the road was later acquired by Southern Railway in 1894. Today, the Blue Grass Railroad Museum runs a variety of themed train rides throughout the year.

Ticket prices range from $4 for children to $6 for adults. For information, call (800) 755-2476 or visit www.bgrm.org.

Hardin Southern Railroad

Hardin Southern Railroad operates excursion trains across a century-old road made famous by the Nashville Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway and later the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

The route, once a busy thoroughfare of steam trains and long-haul freight trains, connected the South with the rest of America. A slew of passenger trains catered to the needs of local citizens transporting children to school, milk to market and shoppers to town.

Today, this popular train, which has been designated a Kentucky State Landmark, is still known for its relaxing peaceful journey and the timeless nostalgic experience still waits for both young and old here in West Kentucky where you can ride with history. Along its journey the train passes through the quiet and peaceful residential communities of Dexter and Almo, once bustling stops for the railroad.

Ticket prices range from $6.50 for children to $11 for adults. For information, call (270) 437-4555 or vistit www.hsrr.com.

Kentucky Railway Museum

The Kentucky Railway Museum, founded in 1954, is one of the oldest railroad museums in the United States.

The museum operates out of New Haven, Ky., and owns 17-miles of track, formerly of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad’s Lebanon branch. The branch was built in the 1850s, according to the museum’s Web page. However, during the Civil War, it was a target of sabotage.

Ticket prices range from $8 for children to $12.50 for adults. Prices may vary depending on whether it is a steam excursion or a diesel excursion. For information, call (800) 272-0152 or visit www.kyrail.org.

My Old Kentucky Dinner Train

Based in Bardstown, Ky., My Old Kentucky Dinner Train offers riders dinner in vintage 1940s coaches.

The Bardstown & Louisville Railroad, later incorporated into the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, laid the tracks in 1860. R.J. Corman — a short line railroad based in Nicholasville, Ky. — bought the tracks from CSX Transportation in 1987. The dinner train started running a year later.

Ticket prices range from $36.95 for lunch to $59.95 for dinner. For information, call (502) 348-7500 or visit www.kydinnertrain.com.

Tennessee Valley Railroad

Chattanooga’s railroad history was sealed when the Glenn Miller Orchestra introduced the Chattanooga Choo Choo in 1941. The first Chattanooga Choo Choo steamed from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Chattanooga on March 5, 1880.

Although passenger trains haven’t served Chattanooga since the 1970s, the Tennessee Valley Railroad keeps the memories alive. The museum operates trains over a 3-mile stretch of track near the original East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad right of way. The line passes through 984-foot-long Missionary Ridge Tunnel, built in the 1850s.

Ticket prices range from $6 for children to $12 for adults. For information, call (423) 894-8028 or visit www.tvrail.com.

Tennessee Central Railway Museum

The Tennessee Central Railway Museum offers between 20 and 25 excursions from Nashville to various cities in eastern Tennessee.

Named for a now defunct railroad, the museum operates trains across the former Tennessee Central Railway, now owned by the Nashville and Eastern Railroad. Excursion destinations include Cookeville and Lebanon. Trains pass through rural farmland and rock bluffs as the train weaves its way through a scenic wonderland.

Ticket prices range from $25 for children’s regular or first-class seats to $55 for adults’ first-class seats. Additional fares are available. For information, call (615) 244-9001 or visit www.tcry.org.

Todd DeFeo
About Todd DeFeo 236 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and The Travel Trolley.