Donations Surpass $375,000, Final Push of Phase 2 Underway

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Final push underway to raise funds for the relocation of 
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway Steam Locomotive No. 576

 

The Nashville Steam Preservation Society’s goal is $500,000.
To date, the grassroots effort has pulled in $375,000.
When the remaining $125,000 is raised, heavy restoration can begin

 

The Nashville Steam Preservation Society (NSPS) today announced that it is only $125,000 short of its initial $500,000 fundraising goal for the relocation of the famous Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway (NC&StL) Steam Locomotive No. 576, on display in Centennial Park since 1953.

Known as the “Stripe,” the locomotive is the last remaining J3 4-8-4 steam locomotive designed and built by the American Locomotive Company for the NC&StL Railway. The locomotive, long associated with Nashville’s Country Music roots, sits in Nashville’s Centennial Park eagerly waiting for restoration and the return to the high iron in excursion service.

As part of the lease agreement with the City, NSPS must raise $500,000 before the historic locomotive can be relocated. When the remaining $125,000 is raised, the locomotive will be removed from its display site and transported to the initial restoration facility approximately five miles away.

“The 576 is a beloved local icon that toured throughout the South from Memphis across the state to Nashville and on down to Chattanooga and Atlanta,” said NSPS President Shane Meador. “Restoring the last remaining Stripe will serve as a visceral link to the history of Nashville.”

With a number of special events planned during peak summer months and another fundraising push to rail fans around the world, Meador hopes that the group can raise the remaining $125,000 by the end of September. “If that happens, we can move No. 576 out of the park by the end of the year,” he said.

Nationwide support for the Nashville landmark

For decades, families and friends gathered in front of No. 576 for pictures. Johnny Cash posed next to the locomotive for the cover of Life Magazine in 1969. “If you grew up in Nashville, chances are you had your picture taken in front of No. 576 at some point in your life,” Meador said. “The 576 is as much of a Nashville landmark as the Ryman Auditorium, the Parthenon, or Union Station.”

Even though No. 576 is as Nashville as country music, the NSPS reports that donations have come from across the country. A $75 for 75 Campaign, launched in September 2017, marked the locomotive’s 75th anniversary of the date the locomotive entered into service. The campaign was boosted by a $50,000 matching grant from the Candelaria Fund in California. That effort alone raised more than $120,000.

The NSPS’ hope is that the restoration of the locomotive will celebrate Nashville’s musical roots, add to Nashville’s vibrant tourism industry, and help younger generations imagine careers in technical trades such as welding, machining, and mechanical comprehension.

“When people see No. 576 thunder past them on the rails, they’ll see the ultimate in power and machinery,” Meador said. “Steam locomotives are living and breathing classrooms of history and science. By restoring Nashville’s own No. 576, we are teaching an important but often forgotten aspect of our history and showcasing the mechanical ingenuity of its design and the science of how these machines work.”

“Hearing the whistle and the clatter of the wheels against the steel rails is musical,” NSPS Communications Manager Joey Bryan added. “The 576 has a beat all its own, just like the city it served. I can’t wait to hear that rhythm.”

Click here to donate.

New Technology Aids Boiler Inspection

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This past Friday, representatives from EON Products, Inc. and World Testing, Inc. were on site at Centennial Park to perform more inspections on the condition of the boiler. Specialists used handheld analyzers to measure the amount of carbon within the steel plates of the boiler. The CFR mandates that in order to weld repair any unstayed area of the boiler, the carbon count must be below .25, so these tests are extremely important as we plan ahead to the restoration phase.

For this inspection, World Testing used the SciApps Z-analyzer that uses a LIBS technique. What exactly does that mean? LIBS means “laser induced breakdown spectroscopy” and it yields nearly instant readings on the metal that it’s testing. This is the only analyzer currently on the market that has the ability to measure carbon in alloys. We are pleased to announce that all of the readings showed the carbon amount at less than . 25! The men who maintained the NC&StL’s steam fleet could never have imagined that this could be done with a tool that fits in the palm of a hand!

World Testing, Inc. previously performed ultrasonic tests on various portions of the boiler measuring the thickness of the sheet metal. They are a metals testing laboratory, locally-based in Mt. Juliet, TN, offering Radiographic Examination, Ultrasonic Inspection, Magnetic Particle Examination, Liquid Penetrant, Hardness Testing, Leak Testing, Visual Inspection, Alloy Analysis, Welding Certifications, Welding Procedures and Consultations.

As a subcontractor for construction and engineering firms throughout the United States, World Testing performs destructive and nondestructive testing of structural steel, castings and piping for compliance with codes and customer specifications in fabrication and welding operations.

Their services are performed at shop and field projects of all sizes and types of structural steel, pipelines, compressor stations, pressure pipe, pressure vessels (including steam trains!) and related facilities throughout the United States. We are very appreciative of their help and proud to call them a partner!

NSPS Hosts Successful Open House

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On Friday October 13th, The Nashville Steam Preservation Society hosted an Open House in honor of Nashville, Chattanooga, & St. Louis Railway steam locomotive No. 576’s 75th birthday. No. 576 was built in 1942 by the American Steam Locomotive Company and arrived in Nashville just in time for the war effort. The Open House was an all out 1940s bash with the locomotive dressed up to its revenue service appearance. The highlight of the event was the performance by the Moonlighters Big Band ensemble, taking everyone in attendance back to a bygone era. More than a thousand people walked around the plaza and toured the locomotive’s cab. An additional fan favorite was the occasional blast of No. 576’s original whistle.  With the help of a large air compressor, the voice of the NC&StL ‘Stripes’ echoed through the streets of west Nashville after a 60-year hiatus. Thank you to all who attended and everyone who made the event a huge success!!

Nashville Steam Receives $50,000 Matching Grant, Launches “75 for 75” Campaign

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The Nashville Steam Preservation Society (NSPS) announced today that it has received a $50,000 “challenge” matching grant from the Candelaria Fund, whereby any donation the group receives through the end of 2017 will be matched one-for-one. In honor of that matching grant coinciding with the 75th Birthday of Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway No. 576, the last remaining J-3 ‘Stripe’ steam locomotive, NSPS is launching the “75 for 75” Campaign.

“We are absolutely honored to have received this generous pledge of support to help put No. 576 back on the rails,” said NSPS President Shane Meador. “While we wanted to recognize the 75th birthday of No. 576, that donation amount is merely a recommendation – any donation, large or small, will help us with this project. Not to mention, each dollar will be matched one-for-one!”

Today, the 576 eagerly sits at Nashville’s Centennial Park in the hopes that it will one day return to service pulling excursion trains and teaching younger generations Tennessee’s rich railroad history and the science behind steam technology. Once the funds for its relocation and restoration are secured, the iconic locomotive will be moved to the Tennessee Central Railway Museum for a complete tear-down, inspection and restoration.

“The 576 is a beloved icon that traveled throughout the South from Memphis over to Nashville and down to Chattanooga and Atlanta,” said NSPS Historian Joey Bryan. “Restoring the last remaining Stripe will serve as a visceral link to the history of the region”

Donations to NSPS will be matched by the Candelara Fund dollar-to-dollar up to $50,000 until December 31, 2017. The NSPS has already raised more than $250,000 of the $500,000 it needs to relocate the locomotive for the tear-down, inspection and restoration. To make a donation, click here.

The ‘Stripe’ No. 576

August 2017 marked the 75th anniversary of No. 576’s construction at the American Locomotive Company’s Schenectady Shops. To mark the occasion, Nashville Steam is launching the “75 for 75” campaign. “The fact that there is still a J-3 in existence is remarkable,” said Joey Bryan, Historian & Preservation Officer for Nashville Steam, “we’re asking anyone that wants to see No. 576 thunder down the high iron once more to donate $75 or one dollar for every year the locomotive has been around. And with the matching grant, any donation will help ensure that the locomotive is around for another 75 years.” Donations will be matched between now and the end of the year. The Candelaria Fund is 501(c)(3) based out of California. They frequently donate to rail preservation efforts across the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

Join Us for the 2017 Nashville Steam Open House!

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The Nashville Steam Preservation Society is hosting a FREE Open House in Nashville’s Centennial Park on October 13 from 4:00 to 9:00 pm. Come on down to the locomotive, just west of the Parthenon on 27th Ave. N., for tours of the train, evening photo sessions, a silent auction, food trucks and more. All proceeds and donations will go towards the restoration of Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Rwy. No. 576 to operate excursions out of downtown Nashville.

The event in brief:

DATE: Friday, October 13
TIME: 4:00-9:00 PM
LOCATION: 
At the locomotive, just west of the Parthenon on 27th Ave. N. in Centennial Park
ATTRACTIONS INCLUDE:

  • Locomotive tours from 4:00-7:30
  •  Evening photo session from 8:00-9:30
  •  Silent auction from 4:00 – 7:00
  • Food trucks from 5:00 – 8:00
  •  Gift shop and tent open the entire time
  • And more!

We look forward to meeting y’all soon!

60 Years After the Merger

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Like many of you reading this, I was never able to experience a J-3 “Yellow Jacket” steam locomotive roaring down the mainline with the Dixie Flyer in tow or witness a pair of red and yellow pusher units return to Cowan after helping a heavy freight train defy gravity over the grades of Cumberland Mountain. My only glimpse of the mighty Nashville train shed was in the mid 1990s when it was merely a dilapidated shell of its former self. Like many of you, I missed the Nashville, Chattanooga, & St. Louis Railway, by a good thirty years.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the merger of the NC&StL and the Louisville & Nashville railroads. The NC&StL started as the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad in 1845. After a meteoric rise in business in the latter half of the 19th century, and the addition of “St. Louis” in 1873 as a guiding geographic moniker, rival company L&N intended to block further expansion and dominate the regional land transport market. The L&N gained controlling stock in 1880 but government intervention and public backlash from the people of Nashville caused the administration to let the NC&StL operate as an independent subsidiary for the next 77 years. To quote famed railroad historian Richard E. Prince, “[the L&N] latched closely to the purse strings of the NC&StL Ry, whose expansion was closely guarded as those of a wayward stepdaughter.” Despite strict oversight and company rivalry, the two entities operated efficiently leaving their marks on the cities and the people they served.

Though few buildings remain, the bowtie logo carved into stone still remains on an overpass in south Chattanooga.

The merger of the two roads was inevitable. Financially, it was warranted. Merging the two networks made operations more efficient in a struggling economic environment. Culturally, however, it was the end of an era. The physical landscape of Nashville changed and its identity as a railroad town started to vanish. But the people who worked and grew up with “Grandpa’s Road” remained. August 30, 1957 may have marked the end of a company, but it was only on paper. No. 576, the only remaining mainline steam locomotive from the NC&StL, is the tangible piece that unites the living present with the remembered past at its place of honor in Centennial Park. It’s where my grandmother took me to regale me with stories of her father and how his job as a clerk with “Grandpa’s Road” (in this case “Great-Grandpa’s Road”) got them through the Great Depression. It’s where Nashville natives and visitors alike can gaze upon its size and wonder what was and what could be again. Through the locomotive and all of those who visit it and remeber, the Nashville, Chattanooga, & St. Louis Railway lives on.

Hundreds gather at Nashville Steam’s first Open House in October 2016. Some attended to remember old memories, others came to make new ones.