The North Alabama Railroad Museum will run several train excursions on its line April through December. Please see our Train Ride Schedule for more details. Our regular (long) excursion consists of a roundtrip of 10 miles, with some great scenery thrown in. The train travels over a section of the historic Huntsville Branch of the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway. Prior to 2008, the train was pulled by a 1949 ALCo S-2 with a 1000 horsepower turbo-charged diesel engine. It was repainted in a paint scheme fashioned after that of the of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway (see Completed Projects page). Beginning with the 2008 season, the museum is running the train in what is sometimes called a “push-pull” operation. In this arrangement the train has a locomotive placed at both ends. Prior to this arrangement, when the train came to the end of the line, the locomotive had to be uncoupled and “run around” the train to be placed on the other end. However, with the push-pull arrangement the locomotives stay on the ends and the train can be longer in length. So to that end, we have added an extra passenger car and can now carry more people. And to many, it gives our train more color and presence! While the consist of the train may vary, expect to see a train with two passenger coaches, a baggage car and a diner with ALCo locomotives on each end. One coach we use, No. 6082, was made in 1939 by the Budd Company for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Later it was sold to Amtrak from whom it was purchased by NARM. Sister coach No. 6090 is the latest addition to the train. The baggage car is an ex-Southern Railway unit, No. 139, that has been prepared to use as an observation car complete with depot style benches. This car is used to sell railroad and museum souvenirs and other items. If you like the wind in your hair, this could be the car for you ! The dining car began life as an Army hospital car and later it was used as a Strategic Air Command car by the Air Force. Much hard work was put into the effort to convert this car over to a dining car, but we think it worked out quite well.
On our regular excursion that lasts a little over an hour, the train departs from the Chase depot and travels down hill to the west. Our hard working volunteers keep our track in tip-top shape and safety is always our number one concern. As we progress down the hill we cross Chase Road and then Higdon Road. As we approach the woods, be on the lookout for the museum’s menagerie of concrete animals. Look carefully, they get really still when the train rumbles by. There are some more sites to see as we go deeper in the woods and reach the culvert. There, our “aquatic life”, as we jokingly call our concrete porpoise and frog, await the train. The kids can keep a watchful eye out for some real horses in these parts as well (not to mention the occasional deer and smaller animals you would expect to see in the woods)! Then we reach the stop known as Normal, Alabama. This is located just across from Alabama A&M University and used to be a regular stop for college students back in the day, as they say.
At Normal, the train pulls into a siding and we will usually take a short break. This is a good time to visit the souvenir car to view and purchase some great railroad related memorabilia ! The museum does now accept credit cards, to include Visa, Mastercard and Discovery Card. Soon the train starts and slowly we will chug up the hill towards the Chase depot with an occasional burst of smoke from the locomotive as it works hard in “transition”. At this point the engineer in the locomotive on the other end of the train has taken over. After we cross the previously mentioned two roads, look for the Chase depot which will be visible on the south side of the train and wave at the Station Operator as he or she inspects our train. After we pass the old Chase warehouse the train will slow as we approach a general store / saloon that one of our local residents has made just for the train riders to enjoy (look on the north side of the track). Then the train crosses Moores Mill Road where we kick in our extra loud Nathan air horns. Hold your ears ! Important tip: Please remind your family and friends to treat rail crossings with the utmost respect – and teach any young drivers in your family to do the same. Then we pass the museum’s storage compound and proceed into the woods. Depending on the season, we have seen several types of interesting wildlife here, such as deer, owls, rabbits, groundhogs and even an occasional snake slithering across the tracks. Keep an eye out for such interesting sites as we proceed east. Finally we reach the TVA siding which leads to a large substation you will see in the distance. Next we come to Shields Road and from this point you are riding on some of our newer trackage. Now we will cross a high fill with a babbling brook below in a valley with cotton fields in the distance. Next we make our way into a newly developed subdivision, then we reach the end of the line at Naugher Road. At this point the engineer in the locomotive on the other end of the train has taken over. The train crew turns some valves, the brake test is completed we begin our trip back to Chase. Now it’s your turn to sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery ! Upon arrival at the Chase depot, the passengers are greeted by friendly waves as they complete their 10 mile trip. Hope you enjoy your trip!
Please, when you visit, do not walk on top of the rails or allow children to. Rails are very slippery and can cause a very nasty fall. We want your visit to the museum to be an enjoyable one.
We recommend that riders make reservations in advance for the train rides, especially if you are coming from a far distance. Riders should always make reservations well in advance for the Santa Train as these rides sell out very early.