The Tennessee Valley Railroad is a fun trip into the past. KJ really likes trains, so we were excited about the chance to take a ride on a real one that is powered by a steam engine. We arrived at the Grand Junction Station about 30 minutes before departure giving us time to explore the historic trains and cars that are on display there. The days and times of the excursions change with the seasons so be sure to check their website prior to visiting.
We took the Missionary Ridge Local which is a 6 mile trip that takes less than an hour round trip. When KJ gets a little older, we will try one of the longer excursions. This one was just about the perfect length for his three-year-old ways. They have both air conditioned and open air cars which was nice. The tour takes you through the Missionary Ridge Tunnel that dates back to before the Civil War. You will also hear some interesting history of the area throughout the trip. (Locals: pay attention for the history of Arno Street)
At the East Chattanooga turnaround point, passengers are allowed to disembark. The engine is moved onto a working turntable and rotated into position for the return trip. This is one of the highlights of the excursion. This stop also allows passengers to visit the TVRM machine shop where train repairs and total restorations are done, all by way of ticket sales and donations.
Of course the actual ride was KJ’s favorite part but the entire tour kept his interest for a few hours.
If your kids love trains like KJ does, this is a great outing. He was a little disappointed to not find a “Dinosaur Train”, but that was soon forgotten. There are coupons available for the excursions. The Kids First coupon book had the best deal for us, but the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau also has a good one.
There are plenty of picnic tables throughout the property at the Grand Junction. The Depot Deli was closed because of the time we were there, so plan ahead. They also offer different birthday party packages for your little engineer.
We found the staff very friendly and knowledgeable. Their expertise definitely enhanced the experience. We plan to visit again for the North Pole Limited in December and to see Thomas next Spring. All aboard.The Little Details: Scavenger Hunt: Tennessee Valley Railroad Scavenger Hunt Location: Grand Junction Station 4119 Cromwell Road off Highway 153 at Jersey Pike (Exit 3) Restrooms: Yes at Grand Junction Station and Turn Around (East Chattanooga) Station Food/Vending: Depot Deli (depending on day), Vending Machines, Dining Cars on the longer excursions. Tennessee Valley Railroad Website