New Southern 4501 documentary highlights locomotive’s history, caretakers

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No. 4501 leads a 14 car train through Orange, Va., on the former Southern Railway main line, in May 1985.
Alex Mayes
CHATANOOGA, Tenn. – Inspired by an affirmation for steam and the startup of Norfolk Southern’s 21st Century Steam program, a documentary discussing the history of Southern Railway 2-8-2 No. 4501 is now available. The 93-minute film, titled And Then There Was One, focuses on the history of the Mikado and its caretakers. The film was recently debuted in a special premiere hosted at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga.

Directed by Evan Loftback, a resident of Maryville, Tenn., the documentary is the result of a more than two-year year project inspired by No. 4501’s most recent restoration.

“When I learned more about 4501’s restoration and her amazing history, I had a strong desire to share it with the world,” Loftback says.

Within a couple months of beginning the project in the spring of 2014, he received support from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and a Birmingham, Ala., film producer who agreed to supply production assistance at no cost.

As news of the project circulated throughout the preservation community, Loftback was able to secure additional content and information from organizations like the museum and the Southern Railway Historical Association.

“This allowed us to shoot footage in some ‘behind-the-scenes’ locations, get access to a plethora of rare material, and set up some fantastic interviews,” he adds.

The all-volunteer project is now available to the public at no charge. Following its recent premiere, the video was uploaded to YouTube. The organization is also making plans for hard copies to be sold at the museum as well. All proceeds will go to the museum and No. 4501’s continued operation.

For more information, or to view the film, go to

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