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  • Writer's pictureTennessee Family Vacation

All Aboard: Exploring Tennessee's Train Museums and Railway Adventures

Updated: Feb 12

From the inauguration of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad in the mid-19th century to the present day, trains have played a pivotal role in shaping Tennessee's landscape.


These iron horses connected cities and towns, fostering commerce and linking Tennessee to the broader national rail network.


Tennessee's trains continue to evoke a sense of nostalgia and contribute to the dynamic tapestry of the state's cultural and economic identity.

Tennessee Train

In this blog post, we will explore some of the best Train Museums and Railway Adventures in Tennessee!

 

EAST TENNESSEE

TN Valley Railroad Museum

4119 Cromwell Road

Chattanooga, TN

(423) 894-8028


Exhibit Admission

Ages 13 & up: $10

Ages 2 - 12: $6

Ages 2 & under: Free


Includes all-day entrance to the property and exhibits on the property. Does not include a train ride.

The special exhibits will be located in TVRM’s new exhibit building and include “TVRM’s First 60 Years,” a Railroad Post Office car display, and two exhibits by sponsor Scale Trains.  This is the first use for this important addition to the TVRM Cromwell Road Campus.


Train rides are also available for additional costs at various times throughout the year.

 
Three Rivers Rambler

2560 University Commons Way

Knoxville, TN 37919, USA

(865) 524-9411


Visit website for current prices.


The depot is located at University Commons near the University of Tennessee Campus.


The 3RR is easily accessible with plenty of free parking.


The depot is surrounded by stores and restaurants that will perfectly complement your 3RR experience, making the day you ride the Rambler one to remember.

 
Little River Railroad

7747 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy

Townsend, TN 37882

(865) 661-0170


Admission is FREE donations appreciated.


In 1901, W.B. Townsend and a group of investors chartered the Little River Lumber Company and the Little River Railroad.


They purchased nearly 100,00 acres of timberland along the Little River and its tributaries.


After it was founded, the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company grew to be one of the largest commercial logging operations in southern Appalachia.


Townsend, named after the the founder and president of the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company, formed as a result of the new industrialization in the area.

The Museum collects, preserves, and exhibits the history of these companies, and of the people in this region.

 
monterey depot

101 E. Depot Ave.

Monterey, TN 38574

931-839-2111


Admission is free.


Explore the rich history of Monterey’s people and what brought them to the Upper Cumberland mountains with a tour of the Monterey Depot Museum, a replica depot and visitors’ center conveniently located near I-40 exits 300 and 301.


Guests will also discover a Native American history as well as why this charming little mountain town was a resort destination and retreat for travelers.

 
Chuckey Depot

210 S 2nd Avenue

Jonesborough, TN 37659

(423) 753-5797


Parking and admission are free, but donations are gratefully welcomed.


The Chuckey Depot ceased to be used in the mid-1900’s and sat abandoned for decades.


Sitting on the railroad’s right of way, the depot was threatened with demolition.


Due to railroad policy, the building could not stay in its original location.


The next step was to find another location for this iconic building.


The Babb Family, who owned the depot, worked diligently within the community to identify alternate locations.


Eventually the decision was made to relocate the building to Jonesborough.


Jonesborough was eager to have the structure, there was a plan in place for its eventual use and Jonesborough has a proven culture of historic preservation.

 

MIDDLE TENNESSEE

Cowan Railroad Museum

108 Front Street

Cowan, TN

931-967-3078


Open Seasonally. Visit website for more info.


Admission

$2 adult, $1 child; $5 family

Free to military


The Cowan Railroad Museum represents the railroad that has been an integral part of the city since 1849 when construction began on boring a railroad tunnel through the mountain two miles southeast of town.


The Cumberland Mountain Tunnel was finished in 1852 before the railroad actually made it to Cowan from Nashville. The town, the railroad and the tunnel still exist today.


In support of that endeavor and later frequent trains through this region, a substantial frame depot was built in 1904, and that building is where the museum now houses its collection for your enjoyment.

 
Cookeville

116 West Broad St.

Cookeville, TN 38501

931-528-8570


Admission is free.


Originally built in 1909, the Cookeville Depot Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the heart of Cookeville’s historic WestSide district.


The museum houses Tennessee Central Railway artifacts, as well as an HO scale replica of what Cookeville’s WestSide looked like in the summer of 1955.


On the other side of the diorama is a replica of a coal tipple with a model train loading up with coal.


The grounds surrounding the museum are considered a park area where the museum has a static display consisting of a 1913 Baldwin steam engine, 1920s classic red caboose, 1960s caboose, and two small track cars.


This area also offers picnic tables and a number of benches.


Please feel free to bring a sack lunch and stay a while.

 
Cadence's railyard

(Model train store located inside of Old Towne Antiques)

2090 Fairview Blvd

Fairview, TN 37062

571-612-9694


If you're looking to build your own model train or add to your collection, check out Cadence's Railyard in Fairview.


They offer a wide selection of all scales of model trains, as well as die-cast vehicles, LEGO, and more!


They also buy, sell, trade, and will ALWAYS discount.

 
Train Museum

945 E Baddour Pkwy

Lebanon, TN 37087

(615) 547-6111


Tours April-October

Tues.-Sat. from 10am- 4pm


Admission

Adult-$6

Children 6-16 $4


The Train Museum in Fiddlers Grove opened its doors in August 2013 during the Wilson County Fair.  The train layout belonged to Mr. Ben Pulley, a retired L&N Railroad employee. 


After his passing in 2012, the family donated some of his collection to Fiddlers Grove for everyone to enjoy.


The museum also houses other train memorabilia. 


The Fiddlers Grove Foundation was responsible for building exhibits and retrofitting the outside of the building.


Train enthusiasts, young and young at heart will enjoy seeing multiple model trains chugging around their metal tracks.

 

WEST TENNESSEE

Casey Jones

30 Casey Jones Lane

Jackson, TN 38305

(731) 668-1222


Admission Pricing

Adults: $8

Children (4-10): $5

Children 3 years & under: Free


Situated adjacent to Casey Jones's historic home, the Railroad Museum features numerous exhibits dedicated to Casey's life and his heroic final journey.


Visitors can relish a short film narrating the story of Casey Jones, take a stroll through the historic home of Casey Jones, and capture moments with the 35-ton locomotive—the museum's rendition of Casey’s engine 382.


Allowing kids of various ages to climb aboard and ring the bell, the museum provides an interactive experience reminiscent of Casey's legacy.


Civil War enthusiasts will find pleasure in the permanent exhibit titled "The Railroads & The Civil War In Tennessee."

 
Germantown

2260 West Street

Germantown, Tennessee 38138


Admission is free.


This two-acre park at the Norfolk Southern Railway contains the historic train depot which serves as a museum.


This park is open Saturdays 1 to 4 p.m. and is the site of spring and fall depot concerts. Limited parking is available.

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