Nashville steam supporters are 60 percent of the way toward first goal

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576Main
Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis No. 576 as it appears under cover in Nashville, Tenn.
Ralph Spielman
NASHVILLE — About 60 percent, that's what's been collected so far in the effort to move and stabilize a treasured steam locomotive from the South.

Speaking with Trains News Wire earlier this fall, Nashville Steam Preservation Society members who support restoration of Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 4-8-4 No. 576 say that they've collected a little more than half of the $500,000 needed to move the locomotive from Nashville's Centennial Park to the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum.

After the move is complete, No. 576 will require an additional $3 million for restoration and operation, and another $2 million for a secure structure to house and maintain the locomotive. The proposed timeline to see the locomotive running again will be about four to six years after the move is finished.

The preservation society hosted an open house on Oct. 13 for No. 576 on its 75th birthday. More than 1,000 people visited the event that was complete with 1940s music, tours of the cab, and a chance to hear the whistle blown. Local support for the project remains high.

This Dixie-type locomotive is the sole survivor of 20 J3s delivered in two batches in 1942 and 1943, in fact, it is the last mainline steam locomotive extant for the railroad. The No. 576 had an active service life of only 10 years. It fell victim to dieselization in 1953 and was donated by the railroad and moved via temporary tracks to Centennial Park, alongside the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis mainline from Nashville to Memphis. The locomotive, 100 feet long end-to-end, was specifically built for 90-foot turntables with 70-inch drivers to handle all dual-service jobs. Powerful and fast, one run was made at the unofficial speed of 110 mph. Those days long gone, a wooden shed was erected overhead to partially protect it from the elements in 2004.

Metro Parks Nashville officially owns the engine, and that city agency signed a 23-year lease with the preservation society to move and operate the engine.

More information is available online.
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