Railroads & Locomotives Tourist Railroad Profiles Tennessee tourist railroads you must visit

Tennessee tourist railroads you must visit

By Lucas Iverson | July 17, 2023

Here are the tourist railroads, museums and displays to experience from Knoxville to Nashville and everywhere else in between!

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Steam locomotive next to blue high-nosed diesel
As one of the Tennessee tourist railroads you must visit, Southern Railway 2-8-2 No. 4501 pauses alongside Tennessee, Alabama & Georgia Railway EMD GP38 during a switch move on the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Chase Gunnoe

In a state enriched in the lore of country music, tourist railroads, museums, and displays have found their own tune across the rolling hills. From Trains Magazine’s Tourist Trains Guidebook, here are the must-visits in Tennessee!

Tennessee Tourist Railroads and Museums

East Tennessee

Lookout Mountain Incline Railway – 3917 St. Elmo Avenue, Chattanooga
Lookout Mountain is a geographical highlight in the Chattanooga area, and the Incline Railway gives you front-row access to the rugged terrain and scenic beauty. As one of the steepest rides at 72.7 percent, the trolley-type car takes passengers on a 15-minute, 1-mile trip up or down the mountain one-way. The railway is both a National Historic Site and a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark that’s been in service since 1895.

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum – 4119 Cromwell Road, Chattanooga
No trip to Chattanooga is complete without a visit to the famous Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. A variety of steam- and diesel-powered excursions depart from either the museum’s Grand Junction station or in Etowah, Tenn. Even during times when it’s considered “off-season” for many tourist railroads, you’re certain to find a train to ride at TVRM. Of course, the ride becomes a special treat when it includes steam excursion-star, Southern Railway 2-8-2 No. 4501!

Three Rivers Rambler – 2560 University Commons Way, Knoxville
Themed excursions for special events are offered by the Three Rivers Rambler from the historic depot in downtown Knoxville. While steam and diesel locomotives are used to power the train of coach and open-air cars, No. 154 – an 1890-built 2-8-0 from the Southern – is the star of the fleet as it was previously on display in the city before being restored to operation. The Rambler operates on the Gulf & Ohio Railways, with its destination being the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers, both combining into the Tennessee River.

Middle Tennessee

Tennessee Central Railway Museum – 220 Willow Street, Nashville
Nashville is home to the state’s Capitol, the legendary Grand Ole Opry, and an unexpected, streamlined passenger train! The Tennessee Central Railway Museum is housed in the former Tennessee Central Railway’s master mechanic’s office, which holds an impressive collection of Tennessee Central artifacts and memorabilia. Of course, the fleet of vintage diesels and stainless-steel passenger cars take center stage with yearly excursions from downtown Nashville to Watertown, Baxter, Lebanon, Cookeville, Monterey, and other destinations. Be on the lookout for big steam in the future with the restoration of Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 4-8-4 No. 576.

Other Tennessee railroad sites to consider

During your visit to Tennessee, consider also visiting these railroad sites:

Learn more about tourist railroads in North America.

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