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Southern steam and fall colors in TN, GA & Alabama

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  • Southern steam and fall colors in TN, GA & Alabama

    The past Two months have been busy for us, with a awesome set of steam trips. It started out in late October with the 765 up in Indiana, and then the Southern 630 over two consecutive weekends in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. I had saved up a lot of vacation time in hopes that NS would announce a Fall schedule, and that worked out very well! Even after driving close to 5,000 miles, spending several nights in hotels and fighting the rain and clouds, it was all worth it to get out and see some steam on the mainline and spend time with my wife and a whole slew of awesome friends.

    On November 9th and 10th, TVRM and NS ran a weekends worth of trips out of Chattanooga. Saturday the 9th saw a flawless trip from Chattanooga to Attalla, Alabama and Sunday the 10th brought the first steam powered trip across the 2nd District of the CNO&TP from Chattanooga to Onieda TN since 1994. The weather for the Alabama trips was less than ideal, but the next day more than made up for it with nothing but sun on the CNO&TP.

    I am still slogging through my stuff from the Asheville trip, but for now here is a look at what we came away with in Bama and TN. What you see here is just a small sample, and invite you to check out the whole set (and some older 630 images from the Spring) over on Pbase by clicking this link >>> Norfolk Southern Steam Photo Gallery by E.M. & Carmon Bell at

    Saturday, November 9th. Chattanooga TN to Attalla Al and return on the AGS North District.

    "Coal Smoke in the Pines" Rolling Hills, long tangents and pine tree's pretty much sum up the AGS North District of the Alabama Division. In this view, you have all of that as 630 struts through Keener, Alabama.

    After the on-time arrival in Attalla, the 630 struggles to shove the train around the tight curve on the South leg of the wye.

    The 630 was sounding great as she accelerated around the big curve just South of Rising Fawn, Ga after a brief stop to inspect the engine. The whistle bouncing around between Sand mountain and Lookout Mountain send shivers up my spine, and made the wait at this location more than worthwhile.

    "Stainless Steel and Markers" Long after the light was gone, Carmon, Tyler and myself sat along the TVRM's Chattanooga Belt Line just to watch the train pass once more. I got the camera out and was just playing around, and captured this image. I don't reckon it came out to bad for almost complete darkness, 3200 ISO and handheld!

    Sunday, November 10th, Chattanooga to Onidea TN on the CNO&TP

    Sunday dawned cold and clear, a far cry from what we had put up with the day before. Our first shot of the day was at the Tennessee River Bridge (Tenbridge) at Chattanooga. While everyone else went for the low angle shots, I found the highest vantage point I could (The top of a stairway on the dam) to try for something a little different. Here is the 630 and train stretched out across the river as they started the run up the CNO&TP

    Once the train got by Hixson, they really took off. We had to fight the traffic to get out of Chattanooga, and I was beginning to think we would not make it to my next planned stop ahead of them. Luckily for us, the passenger train got stuck behind 224 for a couple of meets, and we made it. Northbound 630 just North of Evensville, TN.

    After getting the shot seen above, we skipped a couple of other places to make sure we got the one place that I HAD to have. We got to New River well ahead of the train, and joined Jacob, Tyler and Alex on top of a ridge that overlooks the New River Valley from a seldom seen angle. We also had a chance to visit with the fellow who owns the land here, and soon learned that his Grandfather had been a steam engineer on the old Brimstone RR (a short line the connected to the CNO&TP near this spot, and was SHAY powered to the end). He also had several other members of his family that had worked for the Southern over the years and entertained us with some good local stories.

    After spending a little longer in Oneida than had been anticipated, the train finally got on the move back South late in the afternoon. Jacob and I choose a spot near the top of the hill at CP Pemberton (just South of Town) and were treated to some awesome light and a great show as 630 worked HARD up the hill while getting up to track speed.
    E.M. Bell, KD4JSL
    Salvisa, KY