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December 06, 2021

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TVA Donates Rare Gallatin Locomotive to Railroad Museum

May be an image of outdoorsThe Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) in Chattanooga just recieved a rare piece of locomotive history from the Gallatin Fossil Plant. 

The train, a Fairbanks-Morse model H16-66, was donated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and, according to officials, is one of the few surviving engines of its type with only nine still in existence.

“I’m happy this train now has a second life,” Gallatin Fossil Plant Manager Travis Patterson. “It has an incredible story, and I hope it will power a new generation’s imagination at the museum.”

Built in 1958 and known as the “Baby” Trainmaster, the locomotive was the most powerful single-unit engine produced at that time, according to the museum. It was used for nearly 40 years to transport coal four miles to the power plant before it was eventually retired in 1997 when coal shipments shifted from train to barge delivery.

In 2019, TVA officials began looking at opportunities to preserve the engine and approached the museum regarding a possible donation. Since rail service is no longer available to the plant, officials said extensive planning had to be done to move the Fairbanks-Morse on the highway.

TVA used cranes to lift the partially disassembled locomotive onto an equipment truck to make the journey to Chattanooga.

The engine was delivered last month following a 10-day effort to prep, load and transport it to its new home.

The Fairbanks-Morse is expected to be put on display prior to the start of the museum’s year-long 60th anniversary celebration which begins on Oct. 14.

For more information about the TVRM visit tvrail.com.

About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing and Entertainment Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 18-month-old Ezra.