The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga has a rich history dating back to the arrival of the Western and Atlantic Railroad in 1850 and the East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railroad in 1858. These rail lines turned Chattanooga into a hub for rail-based industries, and the city's strategic importance during the Civil War further solidified its reputation as a major railroad center. The iconic song "Chattanooga Choo Choo" was inspired by the city's railroad history. However, in the 1950s and 1960s, the rise of interstates and airlines led to a decline in the rail industry, and passenger operations all but ended. Despite these challenges, a group of local residents founded the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in 1961 with the goal of preserving, restoring, and operating authentic railway equipment from the "Golden Age of Railroading." The museum has since grown with the help of donations from the Southern Railway, including the original East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia roadbed on which the museum operates its passenger trains. These trains run on the historic route, including the Missionary Ridge Tunnel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum not only preserves railroad equipment, but also the experience of rail travel, in order to educate visitors about the industry's importance and its role in shaping the modern world.
- Missionary Ridge Local Trips - Join us for a 65-minute journey on the Missionary Ridge Local, beginning at our Grand Junction Station. This trip takes you over four bridges and through the pre-Civil War Missionary Ridge Tunnel, providing a tour guide with local history throughout the experience. After a 15-minute ride to East Chattanooga, you'll have a 25-minute layover before returning to Grand Junction. During the layover, you'll get to see a turntable demonstration and take a brief tour of our train restoration shop. This 6-mile roundtrip adventure is a great way to learn about the history of rail transportation and see some of the work that goes into preserving vintage trains. Don't miss out on this unique opportunity - come on ride the train!
- Homefront Tea Room - Get ready for a unique and enjoyable experience with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's new Homefront Tea Room, A Tea in the Depot Experience. This event includes a full high tea in the upstairs viewing room of the Grand Junction Depot, as well as a ride on the Missionary Ridge Local. The tea seating will begin at 11:00 am, followed by a train ride at 12:30 pm, for a total time of 2 hours and 30 minutes. The selection of delectable teas and high tea fare will include savory and sweet items, as well as freshly baked scones. Tickets are per person and include the train ride. Please note that reservations are required for this event and that it is subject to change. Join us at 4119 Cromwell Road, Chattanooga, TN for a memorable and delicious outing.
- Chattanooga Dinner Train - Experience the best of both worlds with the Tennessee Valley Railroad's Dinner Trains - a unique excursion featuring fine dining on board a historic train. From March through October, you can join us on select Friday and Saturday evenings for a three-course dining experience on restored dining cars. Our Dinner Trains are a popular choice for special occasions, and our team of Dining Car Stewards and Chefs will provide exceptional customer service and delicious food throughout the trip. Departing from Chattanooga's Grand Junction depot in the evening, the Dinner Train will travel at a leisurely pace through parts of East Chattanooga before returning to Grand Junction. The standard departure time is 6:30 PM, and the travel time is perfect for a complete meal on the moving train. Don't miss out on this one-of-a-kind experience - join us for a Dinner Train excursion.
- Hiwassee Loop (Delano, TN) - Take in the breathtaking autumn colors on a 50-mile roundtrip through the lower Hiwassee River gorge with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. This 5-hour journey will take you to the top of the famous Hiwassee Loop, one of only six loops of its kind in North America and the only one east of the Mississippi River. You'll be on the train for the duration of the trip, enjoying the views as the tracks wind through the trees. The Hiwassee Loop trips are offered on Thursdays and Sundays, while Copperhill Special trips are available on Fridays and Saturdays. Please note that pricing varies for Fall Premium dates in October and the first two weeks of November. Don't miss out on this unique opportunity to see the beautiful fall foliage by rail.
- Copperhill Special Train Ride (Delano, TN) - Experience the beauty of spring on the Copperhill Train Ride with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. This extended day trip excursion takes you through the lower Hiwassee River Gorge, over the Hiwassee Loop, and onto the joint cities of Copperhill, Tennessee, and McCaysville, GA for a total 94-mile round trip. During the 90-minute layover, you'll have time for a leisurely lunch on your own before returning. The departure time is 9:00 A.M. and the return is generally around 5:30 P.M. The Copperhill route is the same as for Loop trips, but after traversing the river gorge and negotiating the spiral near Farner, the train continues a longer distance through Turtletown and Ducktown to the former mining town of Copperhill. Copperhill Special trips are available on Saturdays, while Hiwassee Loop trips are offered on Fridays and Sundays. Please note that pricing varies for Fall Premium dates in October and the first two weeks of November. Don't miss out on this opportunity to enjoy the beauty of spring by rail.
Did you know that when you purchase a ticket with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, you are helping to preserve the history of railroads? As a non-profit organization, it takes a lot of resources to restore and maintain our vintage trains and equipment. In fact, it can cost up to $1.5 million to completely rebuild a steam engine, which must be done every 15 years or sooner. Your support helps us to continue to share this important piece of history with the community. So not only are you enjoying a unique and memorable experience, you are also contributing to the preservation of railroad history.
Open Daily (except Christmas Eve, Day, and Easter Sunday)
Mid-March to October (daily), Nov-Feb. (weekends) - Check website for more details
For the most up-to-date hours and information, please contact Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum directly.