Monday, March 14, 2011

Rail Tour in The Secret City! > Part II

In Part I of my blog about the Rail Tour in The Secret City, I promised that there would be more news about the train... Yes, this is the same locomotive and train that we'd taken! Only 2 months after we took our tour, the train derailed on a roadway near the Oak Ridge Department of Energy facility. As you can see, only the locomotive and the caboose were derailed. Fortunately, no one was injured although the relatively new paint on the engine was significantly marred!

Here are the rest of our photos from the Secret City Rail Tour based in Oak Ridge Tennessee... With a little research I learned that this EMD GP30 locomotive was built by General Motor's Electo-Motive Division between 1961 and 1963. It was originally purchased by the Southern Railroad. The Southern Appalachia Railway Museum (SARM) operates the tour trains and the Heritage Railroad/Walden's Ridge Railroad handles local freight operations. The motive power/locomotives are used somewhat interchangeably.

This was my view from the open door of a former baggage the open air concession/snack bar car. Both Laurie and I spent most of our time standing in the doorway enjoying the spring sights along the 14 mile route.

More about Oak Ridge... Because of the large number of workers recruited for the Manhattan Project, the army planned a town for them at the east end of the 17-mile long valley chosen for the project. The architectural firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was selected to design the town. Prefabricated modular homes, apartments and dormitories, many made from 'cemesto', (bonded cement & asbestos!), were quickly built. Larger homes were awarded by the government based on the size of the family and the status of the worker. Divorce usually led to a 'housing demotion'.

This is the inside of the concession car on our tour train. Yours truly is hanging out the open doorway. In addition to snacks, a small selection of souvenirs were available for purchase.

Oak Ridge was developed by the Federal Government as a segregated community. Schools were segregated as well and they remained segregated until the Supreme Court forced the Federal Government to change it's policy via it's Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954.

As we returned from our tour, most of which is outside this Department of Energy facility, we rolled on by several items of rolling stock owned by SARM. Laurie took a couple of photos before we were reminded that we couldn't take pictures inside the facility. Since most of the buildings that we rode by weren't in use or are set to be torn down, it didn't make much sense...but rules are rules.

This passenger coach is a refugee from the Algoma Central Railroad based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. The Algoma Central is both a scenic tour railroad and a working railroad that operates on 296 miles of track from Sault Ste. Marie north to Hearst Ontario. That railroad's tour train runs up to Agawa Canyon...a distance of 114 miles. This coach is scheduled for refurbishing and future use on the Secret City Scenic Railroad.

Here is another old diesel locomotive at rest at the Oak Ridge facility. There was quite a bit of rolling stock in the facility but, as mentioned, Laurie's photo taking efforts were curtailed.

Oak Ridge and the Secret City facility is an interesting area. It's almost surreal...even a bit stuck in time. Of course, East Tennessee has a long history as regards land seizures/condemnations by the Federal Government. In addition to Oak Ridge, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Smoky Mountain National Park were all also created via government take over of private land.

For more information about The Secret City Scenic Train Tour, you can call 865-241-2140 or go to the SARM website at

1 comment:

  1. This really had to be a ton of fun. I'm not a jealous person but I do envy you this short excursion. It must have been a wonderful day. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary