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Ride a Train at the Tennessee Valley Railroad

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When you think of Chattanooga, the song “Chattanooga Choo Choo” will come to the minds of many.  Maybe we didn’t ride the Choo Choo, but we did Ride a Train at the Tennessee Valley Railroad and it brought back memories of riding a train out of Chattanooga when I was about 7 years old.  Have you ever ridden a train?

The Evening Ridge Runner Ride is a great way to have a little fun for a date night, or possibly experience a train ride for the first time.  I witnessed a 6-year-old enjoying his first ride and he was just overjoyed at the fun. I don’t think there’s anyplace better for a first train ride than in Chattanooga.


Reservations are highly recommended as many trips can sell out.  Buy your tickets HERE.  This Friday and Saturday night ride runs through September 9.  

tennessee-valley-railroad-my-home-and-travels-welcome sign

Snacks on your Ride

If you ordered the optional charcuterie and dessert trays, pick them up prior to boarding.  I did order both so I could share what was included with you.

snack tray for ride

One charcuterie tray was a great snack to share.  If you aren’t planning dinner for a while, you may want more than one.  Typical fare of salami, cheese, crackers, fruit, and olives were all tasty and fresh.

The chocolate dessert box was full of chocolate, including a Moon Pie.  Did you know they were made here in Chattanooga?  Other chocolate treats such as pretzels gave you a sweet treat on the return trip.

Visit the Depot and Gift Shop

Arrive earlier than your suggested time to give you plenty of time to walk around the outside area and view all the train cars on display.

tennessee-valley-railroad rail cars

tennessee-valley-railroad cars on display

The depot is set in a 1900’s décor. 

ticket office tvrr

Of course, there’s a gift shop for you to buy a souvenir, but also think about gifts for the future.  Maybe you know someone who loves trains or Christmas is right around the corner.  My husband found a few train items and said they were very reasonably priced so keep that in mind.

gift shop


Ride the Evening Ridge Runner

We chose this trip as just a little fun evening out.  It wasn’t a long ride, so it could easily be worked into dinner plans as they have two-timed options – leaving at 7:00 and 9:15. 

When you board, you can choose the air-conditioned side or open window.  As we were there on a hot July night, we chose the car with the AC.  It was fairly divided on how many chose each car.  Many wanted that open air feeling.

railroad car

The conductor comes around to welcome you and check your tickets.  He also reminds you there aren’t any restrooms on these cars, but they are at the stop.  They are friendly to greet you as you board.

conductor at tvrr


On your ride, you get a lot of history about the train you are on and the locomotive, the Tennessee Valley Railroad, plus the history of the area you are passing through.

You will be given notice about a tunnel you will go through.  It will be completely dark for about a minute.  Please don’t put your hands outside the windows as you are just inches from the walls of the tunnel. 

entering tunnel

This picture was snapped with my i-Phone but you can get an idea of just how close you are.

Watching the Turntable

After 15 minutes you arrive at the turntable and East Chattanooga Depot and depart the train.

east chattanooga depot

There’s a small gift shop with drinks, merchandise, and a must – locally handcrafted ice cream by Clumpies.

east chattanooga depot

Walk a short distance to watch the train turn around on the turntable.  This is just one of a few operating turntables in the US.

turntable 1


Then back on the train to complete the trip.  Maybe have your chocolate treats.

ennessee-valley-railroad-my-home-and-travels depot

Ready to Ride a Train?

history sign

Here’s some of the more popular Train Rides.

Missionary Ridge Local – most popular

Copperhill Special

Evening Ridge Runner – through September 9

Home Front Tea Room – newest 

On my list to do next is Dinner on the Diner – Meals are prepared on the train and served in dining cars.  Reservations must be made and menu chosen.  What a special treat for a birthday or anniversary with white tablecloths and formal table settings.



For all train ride options, including holiday – find them HERE.   **Note – Christmas Dinner Trains are already sold out but there’s a possibility for more to be added.  

Rides with Santa are still available, but I wouldn’t wait long to buy the tickets.


More Ideas for Chattanooga Visits

Great Museums to Visit in Chattanooga Area

museums in chattanooga my home and travels feature image


Tour the Aquarium and Enjoy a Show at the IMAX


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I’ve included affiliate links to Amazon for you to find some products easier.  I may receive a small commission, but the price is the same for you.  It just helps my blog out.

Happy Travels, 


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  1. I love trains! I used to not fly at all decades ago and would take the train everywhere. Very long trips, but amazing. LOL! We are thinking of taking the one here in the PNW one day. Such a fun post!

  2. I’m reading your post next to a very enthusiastic 3 year old, train fan. He loved your photos! Thanks for a lovely read.

  3. The song Chattanooga Choo Choo sure does come to mind when I read this post. I like the idea of just heading out for an evening train ride on the Ridge Runner. A fun way to learn some local history.

  4. Great post for this cool place in Tennessee. I visit Nashville often and love checking out places and museums throughout the state. The MoonPies are a classic TN souvenir and treat! Cool they are from Chattanooga.

  5. What an interesting thing to do! I hadn’t heard of this adventure and was happy to learn more about it. Thanks for sharing!

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