There was a time when steel rails crisscrossed the vastness of our nation, connecting small towns with each other and the distant horizons. It was the age of steam. It was the age of the iron horse… a fire-eating, bell clanging behemoth that link us east to west and north to south; literally hauling our young nation into the industrial age.
Those who tamed the iron horse and rode it into history are gone now. And without the few short-line and museum railroads that still operate today, even the history would be gone. The Lynnville Railroad Museum is proud to be playing a part in the preservation of that history as well as honoring those who served, and still...
Arriving in Lynnville, you’ll exit your car as if stepping out of a time machine into the early 20th century. Right across the street from the historic business district with its 19th century architecture and old fashioned street lamps is the beautifully landscaped reproduction of a turn-of-the-century depot. An antique truck is at the freight dock awaiting loading. Inside, a telegrapher sits at this post, keying a message to the station down the line. The conductor stands at the window, watch in hand, mindful of his schedule.
The depot displays an ever growing collection of railroad memorabilia. Almost everything, from track laying tools to old railroad watches, has been donated by local people with a special link to railroad history. An operating scale model railroad depicts Lynnville as it was in the 1930’s when the L & N moved passengers as well as freight.
Souvenir ticket in hand, your journey in time begins out on the platform. Climb up into the cab of a cosmetically restored 98 ton, 2-6-2 Prairie type steam locomotive built by Baldwin in 1927. It was the last steam locomotive to run commercially in the Birmingham, Alabama area, having been retired in May of 1964. Sit in the engineer’s seat, grab the levers and imagine the hissing of long silent steam gauges and the scrape of a shovel as the fireman struggles to feel the hungry boiler. With whistle blowing and bell clinging, listen carefully as old Number 7 answers your call and threatens to live again by blowing “steam” across the station platform, an experience children – of all ages – will cherish forever.
Enjoy the comforts of a vintage passenger coach, in the original seats, and watch a video on present day operating steam and diesel tourist railroads. The coach was built in the mid 1920’s for the N.C. & St. L. Railroad and served on the great City of Memphis passenger express. The coach also contains the Milky Way Farms Museum, a tribute to candy king Frank C. Mars and the 2,700 acre farm he built in Giles County in the 1930’s.
Continue your tour by noting the antique farm machinery and other freight carried on the old wood deck flat car. Round out your visit by checking out the crew comforts offered by the steel, long body, cupola style caboose. ALL ABOARD!
The 97 ton, Prairie type steam locomotive on display was one of a series of eight identical locomotives produced at Baldwin’s famed Lima, Ohio locomotive works in the 1920’s. The Prairie type is easily identified by its unusual 2-6-2 wheel arrangement. The type engine, with its relatively small drive wheels, produced considerable pulling power, but proved unstable at speeds over 50 mph. Prairie types were therefore primarily used as freight haulers.
Boiler number 59760, built in 1927, was one of two built for the St. Louis & O’Fallon Railroad to haul ore and coal from area mines to St. Louis steel mills. Assigned No. 8, it served the St. Louis & O’Fallon until the late 1930’s when it was sold to the Manufacturer’s Railway. Sometime prior to 1937, a nagging tendency of the front truck to derail prompted Baldwin to recommend its removal, thus making them 0-6-2’s. Our engine displays this front truck, with small 20” wheels, as it would have looked when originally run as a 2-6-2. After the war, the engine was sold to River Terminal Railroad in Cleveland, Ohio, a subsidiary of Republic Steel Corporation, as No.47. In 1956 it was renumbered again as No. 294 when it was transferred to the East Thomas Works of Republic Steel.
After 37 years in service, it was finally retired – the last operating steam locomotive in the Birmingham, Alabama area – in May, 1964 and delivered to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum. It was acquired in 1997 by our museum and shipped from Birmingham by railcar. After more than 800 volunteer man hours of sandblasting, sheet metal work, priming, and painting by a crew, it looks again as it did during its early years of service. Restoration continues, particularly in the cab, where gauges, valves, and levers wait to be installed.
The coach was built in 1923 by Pullman for the N.C. & St. L. as a twin vestibule car. It saw service in the 1930’s and 40’s on the famed City of Memphis passenger express as car number 742. One can still see the City of Memphis logo stamped on the steel thresholds of each entry door. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad later acquired the car and modernized it in the early 1950’s. Renumbered as 2587, the update included new seats and windows and the elimination of one vestibule in favor of an enlarged rest room. Repainted in “Pullman green,” with the N.C. & St. L. logo and car number, the car looks today as it might have looked in the 1940’s. Number 742 is one of seven known former N.C. & St. L. cars remaining today, according to the L & N Historical Society’s magazine, The Dixie Line. Located inside the car is the Milky Way Farms Museum as well as a “Theater on the Rails” for viewing videos on the history of steam railroads.
Our wood deck 54ft. flat car, No. 62204, comes from the Illinois Central Railroad. Built in 1950, the original friction type trucks had to be replaced with the modern roller bearing type so it could be transported by rail from Centralia, IL to Lynnville. Antique farm machinery (donated by local farmers), of the type that Milky Way Farms might have used in the 1930’s and 40’s is displayed as freight.
The long body caboose, car No 199441, was built for Illinois Central Railroad in 1971 and is typical of the newer, cupola style cars that traveled the rails just prior to being replaced, in the late 1980’s, in favor of end-of-train electronic signal devices. The caboose is currently under restoration and carries the L & N color scheme and marking typical of the era. Cabooses served as both office and home-away-from-homes for train crews for over 125 years before being withdrawn. Our caboose contains a telegraph key that allows visitors to sit at the trainmaster’s desk and send signals to the depot.
You can visit Lynnville's Railroad Museum web site by clicking the picture below