All Aboard for a Holiday Rail Excursion!

October 28, 2013 in Editorials

A couple of our favorite holidays are just around the corner, and it’s time to reserve some special dates for you and the family. If you don’t live in Southeast Tennessee, be sure you’ve got directions to Chattanooga, because you’re going to need them. Chattanooga has always been known for it’s rail hub, having its first rail line in 1850. It’s location made it ideal for industry, as well as offering unique routes that both the Confederate and Union Armies saw as a strategic advantage during the Civil War. In later years, the railroad was the reason behind the song called “Chattanooga Choo Choo”.

Today, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum continues to make it an excellent reason to visit the Scenic City of Chattanooga. In 2011, the museum, celebrated its 50th year by hosting Tennessee Valley Railfest, which celebrated its history and featured many steam engines and visiting locomotives. It was a great way to share the history of how the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum was founded in 1961 by a small group of residents who strived to save some of American history and heritage by preserving, restoring, and operating authentic railway equipment from the “Golden Age of Railroading.”

Today, you and I can celebrate its history by enjoying the many excursions that Tennessee Valley Railroad offers aboard a number of historic train cars, pulled by historic locomotives. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is located at 4119 Cromwell Road in Chattanooga, and is called the Moving Museum. It is here that you will experience the only regularly scheduled, full-sized train ride in Tennessee. Not only will you be well entertained on the rides you are about to take, but you may feel you have just stepped back into another era of time where everything was at a much slower pace.  The TVRM welcomes you aboard, and not only will it be a big thrill with your children and grandchildren, but the special dinner rides are an excellent way to celebrate a special occasion or just to add a little romanticism to the evening.

If the kid in you still believes in Santa, than you will have just as much fun as your children or grandchildren when you take the North Pole Limited. This ride began in 1999 and is still one of the favorites, and it’s a good way to start a new family tradition. This ride takes you on an imaginary journey to the North Pole, and there’s storytelling, sing-a-longs and refreshments as you ride over the gentle hills that often offer a view of Christmas lights along the way. When you arrive at the “North Pole” a special guest will get on board and visit with all the children. As Santa makes his way through the train car, he will visit with each child presenting them with a keepsake. A ticket upgrade can be purchased if your child would like to ride in “Santa’s Private Car”.  These riders will be able to have a longer visit with Santa, as well as enjoy hot chocolate (in a keepsake tumbler) and Christmas cookies.   The North Pole Limited will run each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting Nov. 22 and continuing through Dec. 22. If you are from out-of-town, the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel is offering overnight hotel packages that will include tickets to TVRM’s North Pole Limited trains.

TVRM operates special Holiday Dinner Trains for the Christmas season for Dec. 7, 14, & 21. You will enjoy a four-course meal while riding in a restored 1924 dining car. These rides will leave Grand Junction at 6 p.m. those evenings. The “Dinner on the Diner” that runs on Nov. 23 offers several different ride times varying from 5:30 to 8 p.m. On Dec. 31, TVRM will have a New Year’s Dinner Train. You will need to choose your dinner selection when you purchase those tickets in advance, as well as choose which of Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s cars you want to ride. They will offer three different ones including the Pullman Car – Clover Colony or the Eden Isle Office Car #98 or the Presidential Office Car Eden Isle. Each of these offer a little something different from seating at a table for two for a minimal charge, to party of 8; with the Office Car including a lounge area and rear observation platform. The Presidential Office Car can be privately chartered, and offers the ultimate in railway travel. No matter which ride you decide to take this holiday season, you will enjoy Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s finest moving travel, dining, and entertainment.

While in Chattanooga, I suggest that you take the option and stay the weekend or a few days at the Chattanooga Choo Choo so that you can enjoy even more of the city. My husband and I enjoyed a very nice, relaxed weekend recently. The Chattanooga Choo Choo often offers tickets to TVRM rides in their hotel packages. If you have never stayed at the Choo Choo, you are in for another delightful adventure. The Choo Choo terminal was in operation from 1909 till 1970 and a group of investors kept it from being demolished in 1973. This 1909 station is beautiful inside and out, with its 85-foot free-standing dome, it is quite a conversation piece to tourists visiting the area. It sits on 24 acres of historic property that offer exceptional hotel accommodations, “spirited” dining venues, unique train, gift and art shops, cafe and fine eateries.

While at the Choo Choo, you can stroll through the gardens of roses and other flowers and fountains, dine aboard a train car or in the Garden or Roosevelt rooms. Many find the billiard room lounge a nice place to get reunited with friends and relax in its quiet atmosphere. We enjoyed the amazing talent of the singing waiters at the Station House. Before these waiters/waitresses are hired, they have to audition to prove they can sing. The food was very good at each place we ate during our three-day stay. I especially enjoyed the French toast at breakfast, as well as the savory menu they had prepared for the large group at the banquet we attended.  The Choo Choo still offers the Victorian train cars for your overnight stay, as well as their fine hotel lodging. You are not able to catch a train at the hotel/dining destination located at 1400 Market Street, but you can certainly tour some of the cars and take pictures while you stroll between the cars and along the gas-lighted walkway, and look one more time at the amazing 85 foot dome inside the entrance.

To hear an “All Aboard”, you will have to go on over to Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum on Cromwell Road and purchase your ticket for an awesome holiday experience.  You’ll be delighted to find out about so many more amazing excursions they offer for spring and summer in Chattanooga and surrounding areas. To purchase your tickets and reserve your seat, call 423-894-8028 or go online to www.TVRAIL.com.

holiday train pic