CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Norfolk Southern Corp. is in negotiations with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum with regard to the operation of a limited schedule of steam locomotive event appearances and passenger excursions beginning later this year.
“21st Century Steam” would highlight milestones in rail history and provide an opportunity for audiences to learn about today’s safe and service-oriented freight railroads. The program would feature three venerable coal-powered steam locomotives:
— Southern Railway 4501: Built in 1911 by Baldwin Locomotive Works, 4501 served Southern Railway in freight service in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, before being sold to a short line railroad. No. 4501 was retired from revenue service in 1963 and enjoyed a second career in the excursion program operated by Southern Railway and Norfolk Southern from 1966 until 1994. This Ms (Mikado superheated) Class locomotive has 63-inch driving wheels.
— Southern Railway 630: Built in 1904 at the Richmond, Va., works of American Locomotive Company, this Consolidation-type locomotive has traveled throughout the Southeast, often in the company of 4501 and sister locomotive 722. An extensive six-year rehabilitation to Federal Railroad Administration standards is being completed at TVRM’s Soule Shops complex in Chattanooga.
— Tennessee Valley Railroad 610: Built in 1952 by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton for the U.S. Army, 610 has been the mainstay of TVRM steam operations since 1990. It also appeared on several Norfolk Southern steam excursions from 1990 to 1993. No. 610, also a Consolidation type, was one of the last steam locomotives built in the U.S.
“This is the right time for steam to ride the Norfolk Southern rails,” said CEO Wick Moorman. “We have a fascinating history, and we have a compelling message about how today’s railroads support jobs, competition, and the economy. It is a forward-looking message that resonates with people everywhere.”
“21st Century Steam can help introduce historic and modern railroading to a broad new audience of supporters,” said TVRM President Tim Andrews. “We are pleased to be developing this relationship with Norfolk Southern for the purpose of preserving and interpreting the steam age, and of bringing today’s railroad closer to people young and old, in communities large and small.”
The launch of 21st Century Steam would coincide with key dates. 2011 will be 4501’s 100th birthday and TVRM’s 50th. The year 2012 will mark Norfolk Southern’s 30th anniversary.
21st Century Steam’s initial appearances and runs tentatively could take place in the Chattanooga area this fall, with locomotives 610 and 630. No. 4501 could join the program sometime in 2011, after rehabilitation. Exhibit dates, ticketing and other details will be announced later.
“The sights and sounds of a steam train are powerful enough to catch the public’s attention in this busy and complex age,” said Jim Wrinn, author of Steam’s Camelot: Southern and NS Excursions in Color, and editor of Trains Magazine. “A steam train is a living piece of American history that teaches volumes about this exciting industry that has much to offer our country today. Once the door is open with the steam locomotive, you’ve got an opportunity to teach a new generation how railroading is the right transportation solution to so many challenges facing us.”