Chattanooga choo-choo : LUSENET : Southern Railway : One Thread

I would like to model SR's Pelican or Tennessean, having become aware of the fact that these two trains were the original Chattanooga choo-choos (which became famous even here in Denmark, when WW2 ended, and my father and other danish teen-agers back then started to catch up with american big band music, which had been strictly prohibited during the german occupation). Which railroads and locomotives hauled the trains from NY to Chattanooga (around 1941), from which cars did the trains consist and are any of these cars (or pretty good look-alikes) available in H0-scale? Please bear in mind that although US-model-railroading in Denmark has become much easier with the www, I will probably only be able to use models, which are advertised either in Walthers or in the mr-magazines. Hope someone out there is able to help. Bo Falkencrone

-- Bo Falkencrone (, December 12, 1999


Bo--LifeLike recently released Outhern E6s decorated for the pre-war and immediate postwar Tennessean. If you model the 1950s then they also released the simplified paint schmem in green and imitation aluminum. NKP Car which advertises mostly in Railroad Model Craftsmen has kits for the original Tennessean cars and also various other cars for the post-war era. This would therefor be a very easy train to model--Larry

-- Larry Puckett (, December 12, 1999.

Since the introduction of The Pelican did not come until after WWII and the Glenn Miller song dates back to 1941, I think The Pelican can be ruled out. Though I don't recall all of the lyrics of the song, The Tennessean streamliner of 1941 is hardly suggestive of a "Choo-choo". Anyone that is more familiar with the song, I would be interested in your take of what train the "Chattanooga Choo-choo" is?

Are you wanting to do a streamlined diesel powered train or a steam powered heavyweight train?

-- Jack (, December 14, 1999.

Thank you for the answers so far. When I posed the questions I only had the following two sources of information, which may be helpfull. A. The railroad-inspired part of the lyrics of the song (probably written in 1940 or 1941) states that the train leaves from track 29 and then continues: "You leave the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four, read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore. Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer than to have your ham and eggs in Carolina. When you hear the whistle blowing into the bar, then you know that Tennessee is not very far. Shovel (or shuffle?) all the coal in, got to keep it rolling - ooooh ooooh Chattanooga, there you are." By the way, this tune was such a hit that during 1941-1942 it sold more than one million copies, and for that performance Glenn Miller and his orchestra recieved the first gold record in history (although it was not the first time ever, that a record had sold one million copies). B. "The great book of trains" by Brian Collingsworth and Arthur Cook, Salamander Books Ltd. 1996 (a fairly good coffee-table style book which in a relatively detailed manner describes more than 300 different locomotives) states the following about the Norfolk & Western class "J" 4-8-4: "Norfolk & Western also acted as a "bridge road" and their 4-8-4s hauled limiteds such as the "Tennessean" and the "Pelican" - the original Chattanooga Choo-choos - between Lynchburg and Bristol, on the famous journeys from New York to Chattanooga and points beyond." Neither railroad tunes nor coffee-table style books are famous for being 100% truthful (not here in Denmark anyway), so I'll be happy to get more precise facts concerning the riddle of these world-famous choo-choos. Basically I would prefer to model a streamliner set of cars hauled by a GG1, a class "J" or an E6 (depending on location), but I find it more important to model that train consist, which most likely gave the song-writer his inspiration.

-- Bo Falkencrone (, December 14, 1999.

Bo--since the Tennesseean was introduced in 1941 maybe it was the inspiration for the song. Anyway this train was initially hauled from Wash. DC behind streamlined PS4 #1380 to Monroe (Lynchburg) where the N&W took over with the J class locos. These hauled it to Bristol, VA where the Southern E6s took over for the run to Chattanooga then on to Memphis. After the war as more deisels became available the 1380 was sidelined so the N&W section was the only steam section until about 1959 when they too were retired. Good luck with your modeling.

-- Larry Puckett (, December 14, 1999.

Thanks for refreshing my memory on the lyrics. The Chattanooga Choo-choo is a fictious train. To my knowledge no passenger train was ever scheduled from NY's Penn Station to Chattanooga via the Carolina's. No train circa 1941 was scheduled to depart NY going to Chattanooga in the time frame cited. Furthermore The Tennessean of 1941 operated to and from Washington, DC instead of NY.

However The Tennessean is a fine train to model as well as a number of other trains, both Southern and NC&StL, that operated via Chattanooga.

-- Jack (, December 15, 1999.

I agree with Jack, the important thing is to have some fun. If you want the Tennessean to represent the "Chattanooga Choo Choo" then do it! Go have some fun with it. Other interesting things about the Tennessean: Alco DL-109's and PA's were also used to pull this train for short periods of time(very early on), the train was originally intended to be all coach but public demand was such that sleepers were added and since there was a war on and no new cars could be had so SRR put stainless-steel panels on heavyweight sleepers, and all the cars assigned to the train were named after cities in Tennessee through which the train passed, including Chattanooga I assume. Here is an odd cultural item, at the time the train ran the State of Tennessee was "dry", no alcohol of any type. Passengers had to wait for the Virginia State line to be served, a long ride for some. The Tennessean was the only "Fancy", modern train that came through Knoxville, my home town, and as such it remains near and dear to the hearts of many local people. Go model it and enjoy it, Please!

-- Albert E. Pope (, December 16, 1999.

I wasn't trying to put any damper on having fun - just trying to get the facts straight. I agree with Mr. Pope on The Tennessean having some interesting variety. However the first regularly assigned Pullman's on the train did not get stainless steel panels, but were just painted silver (no shadowlining). WWII caused a return to Pullman green. Some of the heavyweight Pullman's may have got silver with shadowlining in the late forties before the arrival of the streamlined sleepers. The Tennessean did not keep its consist pure for very long. If you want to pursue modeling the Tennessean and have a time period in mind, I'd be glad to help you research the details. Bristol, Va would be an interesting location to model with The Tennessean, since the motive power would be changed between N&W's steam and Southern's diesels there.

-- Jack (, December 16, 1999.

Or you could just model Chattanooga and then all the trains would be Chattanooga Choo-Choos! There was a tremendous variety of trains going through Chattanooga. Plus 'Nooga was(is) bigger and more metropolitan, Big Band music was more likely to be popular and played there in a big city with large hotels, etc. Let us not forget the social implications of this whole thing. Bristol was better known for its "Hill-Billy" music.

-- Albert E. Pope (, December 17, 1999.

Having grown up in Chattanooga and curently modeling the Choo Choo Terminal Station, I've come across a wide variety of information. The "Chattanooga Choo Choo" was the name given to the very first train to leave St. Louis on the Nashville, Chattanooga, & St. Louis Railroad (Became part of the L&N) by a newspaper reporter from St. Louis. Little did they know that it would stick and thus inspire the famous Glen Miller song. This engine was a ten wheeler (circa 1900) and a replica of it now resides at the Choo Choo.

-- Ian C. Lewis (, January 07, 2000.

I must apologize... some of the info I gave you was wrong. This is what happens when you try to do it from memory.

The actual Chattanooga Choo Choo was the first run from Cincinatti to Chattanooga on the Cincinatti Southern on March 5th, 1880 (I was close to the date). The rest of the information is acurate. Sorry about the misleading information. I'll check my sources before I speak next time.

-- Ian C. Lewis (, January 07, 2000.

I have to make a correction: The train that inspired the song was probably SOU #17 - the southbound Birmingham Special. The key is the line that says something about leaving Penn. Station at "a quarter to 4." In the early 40s, #17 (or actually the PRR train that connected with #17) left NY at 3:40 (or maybe 3:35; I can't remember exactly). The songwriter took some poetic license, because the train never went thru "Carolina"; it followed the same Washington-Lynchburg-Bristol- Knoxville-Chattanooga route as the Tennessean & Pelican. That may be where the confusion with those trains comes in. But the Tennessean (the Memphis Special in pre-streamliner days) left Washington at 8:00am and had no NY connection, and the Pelican's (Washington, Birmingham & New Orleans Special prior to WW2) connection left NY at about 8:00pm.

-- Rick Terry (, November 22, 2000.

Gentlemen: While there are a LOT of guesses here as to WHAT Railroad Was ACTUALLY THE Chattanooga Choo- choo, there was NEVER a REAL ONE! Having been a Musician and a steam fan most of my life, The C.C.C. Exists purely in our imaginations!

-- Allen Dale Strange (, April 08, 2001.

wtf is a chattanooga choochoo

-- Mary BoPeep (, November 11, 2002.

As a person who lived in Chattanooga the first 27 years of my life and as a lifelong railfan, I concur there was no such train LITERALLY known as the choo choo. It was applied to the Cincinnati to Chattanogoa route by a reporter,and Glen Miller, apparently picked up on that. As to trains from Ny to Wash to Chatta, as already pointed out, the Birmingham Special would be a better candidate since its schedule was a little closer. Then there is the "Carolina problem" as trains from NY to CHatt did not go through the Carolinas. Poetic liberties there, no doubt.

-- bill haithcoat (, May 26, 2004.

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