Trains are lame. Said No one. Ever. I had great fun visiting the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and taking a train ride!
The museum has a main office in Chattanooga, Tn. There is also an outpost in Etowah, TN which is about 50 miles northeast of Chattanooga. I was lucky enough to visit both museums and I got to ride the train out of Etowah.
The Etowah museum is the history of Etowah itself. The creation of the train line through Etowah was a giant economic boon. I found the most unusual facts was the mascot of the local Etowah High School (which is no longer in existence). They were called the piledrivers. What exactly would that look like as a mascot?
Unfortunately, the Etowah train does not leave directly from the train station. After almost missing the bus, we were transported to the train a few miles away. The Hiawassee loop is a 4 hour 50-mile round trip loop. Our general tickets cost $42. There are more luxurious cars and an observation deck.
A real live conductor greeted us at the platform! He checks your tickets and then sends you on your way. Car 1 was full so we headed to car 2. Perfect! The seats were comfy and car 2 is the concessions car. Score!
The train goes up and back down in the same direction. So at the halfway point, everyone switches sides of the train. Thank goodness because my view on the ride up was boring! Lots of rocks. A highlight of the trip is seeing the trestle bridge that you will ride up to go up the mountain. The mountain was so tall and difficult to build through, they decided to make a looping track to get up it.
My husband was most excited at the amazing vantage point he found between the cars. I admit that being outside made the train ride so amazing. You could hear and feel the clack clack clack. and feel the sway more than possible inside the car. Below is some video of the train coming down the mountain.
The trip down was soo much faster than the ride up. I know pulling a train uphill is much more difficult than coming down. They did keep it interesting by telling the history of the places we passed.
The train ride runs along the Hiawassee river for several miles which provides beautiful scenery. There are lots of people rafting and kayaking on the river and many will wave as the train passes.
One crazy distraction for the trip down was the conductor played his banjo! Talk about country! He sang a few songs, told a few jokes. A pretty enjoyable way to pass the time.
Before the trip, we enjoyed a great meal at Scottie’s Diner. It’s a few blocks from the train station. It would also be an awesome stop after the trip.
The next day we headed to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga.
We barely missed getting on the train. The station is a great old train station example. Here they have many train cars on display. A few you are able to climb into and some have detailed histories about the car. We spent quite a while checking out the different cars and all their different parts.
I must admit that I’m not a huge train enthusiast but seeing them up close and learning more was incredible. Being able to ride on a train made me just as giddy as all the children there.
Anytime you are in the Chattanooga area, make sure to check out the Tennessee Valley Railroad. You’ll have to plan ahead if you want to ride a train though. I believe most trips are fully booked in advance so walk-up tickets won’t be available. You can get more info and buy tickets at https://www.tvrail.com/.