The North Alabama Railroad Museum helps to celebrate the roles railroads played in the early history of the country, and there were two of them.
The first role is the expansion of the United States overall, and without them, this expansion would never have been possible.
The second role is much closer to home, as it focuses on the railroads very significant history of northern Alabama.
This very unique and interesting Museum is located in Chase, Alabama, in Madison County, which is about two miles northeast of Huntsville.
Located at 694 Chase Road, the local traffic takes you to Meriden Street just north of Alabama A&M University, and then you turn right onto Chase Road.
If you and your family are coming from out of the area, the major highway to take is U.S. Highway 72, and can be reached by taking the interstate Spur I-65 east of Huntsville.
This unique facility features numerous exhibits that all relate to railroad history, and it has two major features related to trains.
The North Alabama Railroad Museum is a family friendly place for you to enjoy, as there are several things for you to see that cannot be found anywhere else.
The centerpiece of the North Alabama Railroad Museum is the fully restored Chase Depot, which is a functional train stop.
The original Depot was located at two very important major railroads during their time; the Norfolk Southern, and the Louisville and Nashville.
During its prime, the Norfolk Southern ran through Chase, between Nashville and Chattanooga Tennessee.
The Louisville and Nashville, ran through Chase between Dechard Tennessee, and the city Gadsden, located in Etowah County,
Once the museum took over the possession of the historic Chase Depot, it was fully restored to its original building.
This consisted of two waiting rooms, freight rooms, the agent’s office, as well as the ticket window.
It was classified as a “Union Depot”, as it served more than just one railroad company.
The Chase Depot is considered to be the smallest remaining Union Depot not only in the State of Alabama, but in the entire United States.
To fully restore it to its full glory, a signal post was erected, and a train semaphore was placed atop the pole.
The semaphore arms are moved by levers that are inside of the depot and are connected by a cable system.
This signal also had a lantern at the top of the post that was visible through the lenses and was very difficult to reach and maintain.
This unique old-fashioned signal had both red and green lenses, which told the train if it had to stop and get further orders or just keep running.
The North Alabama Railroad Museum helps the pubic to understand both the uniqueness, as well as the history of the Chase Depot.
The location of this historic depot is considered unique for one very important reason; two different railroads converged to withing feet of each other.
The first line as mentioned earlier, which is today known as the Norfolk Southern Railroad, ran between Memphis, and Chattanooga Tennessee.
The second, the Nashville, ran between Dechard Tennessee and Gadsen Alabama, with some unique help.
This would have been a very interesting train ride at the time, as a ferry boat had to help with this transaction.
This ferry boat traversed the Tennessee River form Hobbs Island to Guntersville, and when it was unloaded there, the passengers reboarded the train.
They then traveled through the small towns of Albertville, Boaz, and Attalla, on their way to Gadsen.
Here, the met up with the heavily traveled mainline railroad.
The location of the Chase Depot was no accident, as Mr. Henry B. Chase brought this location into reality.
He was in the Nursery business in the 1880’s and decided this would be a great place to locate his nursery and to ship his stock in different directions.
Mr. Chase bought the property and built the original Depot in the year 1913, and the is where the name came from, as Mr. Chase owned one of the largest nurseries in the southeast at the time.
Mr. Chase also served as mayor of Huntsville form 1918-1920, and sadly the original depot was destroyed by fire in 1935.
It was replaced in 1937, and then his family completely restored it in 1966, and turned into the North Alabama Railroad Museum.
The North Alabama Railroad Museum has several displays and other very interesting railroad memorabilia, that include the following.
Artifacts and Photographs
The North Alabama Railroad Museum displays numerous artifacts as well as photographs, that show the history of the railroad operations in north Alabama and south central-Tennessee.
It also has a fully functional signal post that still flashes train instructions.
30 Locomotive and Cars
One of the most impressive aspects of the museum is the locomotive and car collection, known as the “rolling stock”.
This includes diesel engine locomotives, coach, dining cars, baggage cars, as well as sleeper cars and the cabooses.
It also employs former railroad workers and engineers, who help to repair and restore the cars.
The museum library is filled with a multimedia collection that ranges from railroad books, manuals, and model train magazines.
However, perhaps the neatest as well as best times for you and your family, are the train rides that are available at the North Alabama Railroad Museum.
The regular excursions are run over the entire length of the 10-mile round trip railroad line.
These fun trips last about an hour, and the shorter trips about 35 minutes, and there are 10 trips you and your family can take.
The first is the Peter Cottontail Express, where children get to visit Peter and his friends, and take a picture with him, as well receive a special treat.
The Spring Fling lets you enjoy the North Alabama scenery and is great for picture taking.
There is also the mother and father Day Special, to make great memories and take pictures beside the locomotive.
The Flip Flop Run actually runs backwards, as it goes east instead of west first.
The Magic on the Mercury and Chase Run lets you and your family see a real, live Owl, and there is a Magician on the train.
The Punkin” Picking Extravaganza happens in October, runs down a hill near Alabama A& AM, where you deboard and walk to the “pumpkin patch”.
The Fall Color Special lets you see the leaves changing color, and the Santa Train lets you see the train decorated for Christmas and get a special treat from Santa.
The North Star Limited is also a Christmas ride, and lets you see the wintery stars at night, and Santa is also on board.
If you and your family have never visited the North Alabama Railroad Museum, you are in for a very fun and pleasant surprise.
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