Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chattanooga Choo Choo

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Best Holiday Trav-L-Park
Pull Thru #137

Yesterday Polly, Vern, Rosie and Eddie went uptown Chattanooga to see the Moon Pie General Store and walk the river walk.

We opted to get the oil changed in the truck, get a prescription refilled and buy some groceries.  It was late afternoon when we returned.  Polly and Rosie said the Moon Pie store wasn't much, so we decided to skip it today.  

Polly, Vern, Rosie and Eddie went to Rock City today but we really wanted to do the Tennessee Valley Railroad since it was such a beautiful day.  How can you visit Chattanooga without a ride on the Choo Choo?
The nice thing we found out besides it being the largest operating historic railroad in the south was that this is a non profit organization.  

I was a little concerned because we got there so early and the first trip began at 10:40 and as you can see, it was on time.
As we started viewing the trains and the museums inside them, I realized our timing was perfect.
The tracks were full of a kinds of different locomotives and rail cars.
Today was suppose to be the hottest day since we've been here.  
What a pleasant surprise when we found they were air conditioned.

Amtrak began a new national passenger network in 1971 which led to the demise of the passenger trains which had been declining by the 1960's.   

There were so many interesting stories.  The dining car staff consisted of a white steward and African American waiters which prepared all the food for all three meals.  At night they would lock the car, take out plywood sections to lay across the tables, put mattresses on the plywood and sleep for a few hours.

The porter, was either an African American or Filipino man, who carries the luggage, turns down beds, runs errands, makes up beds, and shines shoes.  The porters sleep very little.  When they sleep it must be in unoccupied open section with a blanket just for his use because of segregation laws.  

Did you notice this sign said "Stop and Listen."?  

The depot was beautiful and they even had a small restaurant.

Bill went in and purchased our tickets.  We had a $1.00 discount so it was $32 for two tickets.  They didn't have a senior rate.
Bill spots the train arriving and I get the camera ready only to find the battery dead.  Have no fear, we have a spare.  Oh, you mean the spare needed to be charged.  
Lucky for us, Bill had two spares.
I expected to see old railroad employees, not these young men.  
Here's Bill with our tickets. They both have his name on them, but they let me ride.

 The trip covered 6 miles and they said they kept the speed under 80 mph--actually way under 80.

The reason Bill is smiling is because we chose the air conditioned car over the open air ones.

We were warned that we were coming up on the tunnel.  Missionary Ridge tunnel is 12 and half feet wide, 18 feet tall and 984 feet long and is horseshoe curved.  The tunnel was built in 1852-1854.  

There are no lights in the tunnel but the porter came by and shined a flashlight on the wall for us.
The train was very comfortable for a train built before 1930.  
We had a couple of Escapees members sitting across from us.

The end of the line was East Chattanooga.  Everyone got off the train to see the turntable.  

I've seen turntables before, but not an actual train use one.

The "Lazy Susan" is needed for steam powered railroads since they are one direction locomotive.  The turntable was given to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum "as is."

$105,000 later it was rebuilt and now used.  It is only 80 feet long.

The engine pulls into the center, where it is balanced.  The engine weighs 120,000 pounds and the turntable weights 80,000.  Before they installed the 25 horsepower motor, four men pushed it around.  It was truly amazing to watch.

Yep, the turntable is 98 years old!

After the turntable demonstration we went to the repair shop.  

They are restoring a locomotive that has taken three years so far and a million dollars.  They have 10 employees and the rest are volunteers.  This is the only shop in North America that restores wheels on steam powered trains.  
While our tour guide told us many things he didn't mention what all these fuel station pumps and signs were doing here.

After we left the station, we'd read about the National Cemetery in Chattanooga being second only to Arlington.  It wasn't far away so we went to check it out.  

 This was an unusual monument dedicated to the Andrews Raiders during the Civil War.

These were the ones that received the first Medal of Honor awards during that raid.  

Notice the pennies on top of the tombstones signifying that their grave site was visited.  
There were a lot of different sections and you could tell by the names of the streets what conflict it represented. 

You know how Bill says I love the unconventional.  Do you think this UFO house would qualify for unconventional?  It was up on Signal Mountain and because it was a private residence we couldn't go inside. 
We were going to stop and see the Muffler Man, but I said I'd had enough.  When we pulled back into the RV park Rose, Eddie, Polly and Vern had just returned from Rock City.  

We've enjoyed our time in Chattanooga and even though we've been busy this past week seeing things, we've got a lot of things to see when we return.  We never did get to the Ghost Tour, the VW factory tour, Ruby Falls, the Incline and maybe when we come back Coco Cola will have a tour.  Chattanooga plant is the oldest bottling plant in the world and they just unveiled plans for a new plant.  

Polly and Vern are headed south to Georgia, Rosie and Eddie are headed to Louisville and we are headed to Raccoon Valley RV park.

Turtle Safely.......

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