Steam Engine 4501 debuted after 3 year long overhaul
After over a decade of remaining stagnant, one piece of history is getting new life.
The 4501 locomotive at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum was debuted today after getting an extreme makeover.
The steam engine is the only one left of its kind and enthusiasts from all over came to see the engine run once more.
"When I was 12 years old I took a trip to Birmingham for it to be rebuilt for the first time,” said Jeff Eblen, Member of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. "To see 4501 being brought back after being moth balled for 25 years, it's exciting."
Locomotive 4501 was the first steam engine of its kind.
It was built in 1911 and now, 103 years later, this locomotive is the last one in existence, but don't be fooled, she still has a little steam left in her.
"This goes back to an era, an ear that is gone forever but here, it lives," said Robert Soule, Member of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.
It has taken 3 years, lots of money and a little elbow grease to re-build this piece of history.
It's as good as new and in some ways with new technology added to it, it's a little better.
"The locomotive has undergone an incredible restoration, one it has never seen in its lifetime," said Soule.
Many never expected 4501 to run the tracks again, but secretly hoped it would, many across the country having their own special story attached to the engine.
"4501 spent so many years in excursion service traveling around the Southern and Norfolk Southern system; everywhere from Florida to Illinois to Mississippi all the way to the coast. It's been everywhere. People have seen it throughout the years; they've ridden behind it, so it does have that special attachment," said Steve Freer, Operations Coordinator.
For Linda Shafer, it brings back happy memories of her wedding day 16 years ago.
“We arranged a special train ride for our guests and 4501 pulled our train ride for our guests. It was just months after we were married that they shut her down," said Shafer.
And now, she will ride it once again.
"It should provide many years of enjoyment and entertainment and bring history back to life for many people," said Soule.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum will be using the locomotive for a few trips this fall before it goes back into full service with Norfolk Southern next spring.
The Railfest will continue Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.