NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than a dozen times on weekends throughout the year, a long string of vintage passenger coaches whisk passengers away from the bustle of Music City and into the rural Middle Tennessee landscape.
The coaches, all of which served for decades on various railroads throughout the country before their retirement from daily service, today haul Tennessee Central Railway Museum visitors. Since 1989, the non-profit railroad museum has ferried passengers from Nashville to points east of town, including Cookeville and Watertown.
The museum is named for a railroad that traces its history to 1884 and operated until 1968. At its prime, the Tennessee Central Railway operated trains over a roughly 248-mile stretch of track running from Harriman, Tenn., to Hopkinsville, Ky., passing through cities such as Clarksville, Tenn., along the way.
Today, the museum’s excursion trains depart from the Tennessee Central’s former master mechanic’s office on Willow Street. Trains operate over tracks owned by the Nashville and Eastern Railroad, a short line railroad that also serves Music City Star commuter trains between Nashville and Lebanon.
For its excursions, the museum often calls on vintage E8 diesel engines as the preferred method of power. The museum’s rolling stock offers rail aficionados a chance to take a step back in time and marvel at equipment no longer seen on the rails.
Trains include regular and first class seats in addition to 20 seats in the dome of a passenger coach that was built in 1954 and served on the Northern Pacific Railway.
The museum’s 2012 excursion schedule, which includes a number of themed trips, starts March 31. For more information about 2012 passenger excursions, visit http://tcry.org/pass_ops.htm.