The volunteers of Southern Appalachia Railway Museum will once again roll out its restored 1920s Pullman dining car, and Chef Andras will prepare an assortment of four deliciously different entree choices for diners on the museum’s Valentine dinner trains. The event gives couples the opportunity to experience the romantic setting enjoyed by travelers during the golden age of American rail travel in the 1930s and ‘40s.
The museum’s Secret City Scenic Excursion Train’s Valentine trips have become so popular that four departures are scheduled; Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. Passengers will begin their journey back in time aboard the former Southern Railway coach Fort Oglethorpe, which was built in 1947. They will then be ushered into the classic dining car where they will be greeted by neatly dressed servers and tables set with fine china on crisp white tablecloths. A long-stemmed rose will await each lady at her table.
Advance reservations are required as seating is limited. Tickets are $70 each, which includes the ride, the full course dinner and all taxes. Reservations can be made by calling the museum at 865-241-2140. Callers should be prepared to make their entree choices at time of reserving. The choices are: Bourbon-marinated grilled filet of beef, herb-marinated grilled chicken breast with white wine sauce, grilled Cajun-style shrimp with pesto cream sauce, and spinach and feta-stuffed baked tomato with brie cream sauce. Full payment by check made out to SARM must be mailed to arrive one week before the event.
The train boards next to the Heritage Center on Highway 58, about 10 miles west of downtown Oak Ridge, and the rides last approximately one and a half hours, taking the passengers through the original K-25 uranium enrichment plant site, now known as East Tennessee Technology Park. The train proceeds out the north gate and through the hills and hardwoods of Poplar Creek Valley.
The non-profit museum’s volunteers have done all the restoration work on the vintage equipment and all proceeds from ticket sales go into operating costs, equipment restoration and insurance. The museum’s mission is to preserve the railroading history of East Tennessee and the South, and to provide public enjoyment and education of that legacy.
The group is anticipating construction of their museum building to be completed this year in the Heritage Center complex, and they are seeking funds for equipment and furnishing the new building. All donations are tax-deductible and will be gratefully accepted. Anyone wishing to make a contribution may contact the museum at SARM, P.O. Box 6756, Oak Ridge, TN, or by calling 865-241-2140. The web site is www.southernappalachia.railway.museum.