Exciting news for railfans and local history buffs.

TAG Railroad Engine 80 / TN Valley Railroad Museum /  RailPictures.net

Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum and Norfolk-Southern Railway have fully restored one of the engines that ran on the Tennessee-Alabama-Georgia Railroad (TAG) back in the day.

The TAG route went from Alton Park in Chattanooga through Flintstone, to Kensington, through Pigeon Mountain, within a few miles of LaFayette, down to Menlo, then on to Gadsden Alabama – and that’s where this locomotive could be seen every day for nearly two decades.

Alton Park, Chattanooga, where TAG RR's main yard and offices were located. The Alton Park yard was consolidated into Southern's Debutts Yard on the other side of Chattanooga after TAG sold out.

Alton Park, Chattanooga, where TAG RR’s main yard and offices were located. The Alton Park yard was consolidated into Southern’s Debutts Yard on the other side of Chattanooga after the TAG sold out.

After the TAG was bought out by Southern Railroad in the 70’s this engine, the 80, was moved to general service all over the country under the Southern, then Norfolk-Southern lines, renumbered as engine 2879.

The 80 / 2879 carried a nameplate honoring John B. Chambliss, a Chattanooga lawyer who saved the railroad from bankruptcy in the 20’s and served as its CEO for the next half century. That name was painted over just a few years before the engine was retired, about ten years ago.

TAG Engine 80 Stored at TN Valley Railroad Museum Before Restoration

TAG Engine 80 Stored at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum Before Restoration

After retirement from Norfolk-Southern the engine was bought at an auction by the railroad museum. It was stored there for years, then mechanically restored at NS’s engine shop and cosmetically restored by the museum.

Tennessee-Alabama-Georgia RR rails were closed between Kensington and Gadsden in 1981. Parts of the remaining line between Flintstone and Kensington (leased to another railroad by then) were washed out during the 2009 floods, and with Dow-Reichhold shut down there was no longer any business reason to keep it open – it was officially abandoned south of the state line in December 2009.

Now we’ve got the TAG engine back, but there’s sadly no longer a TAG rail line to put it on.   Tiny Facebook

LU has been working on a multi-page post about the history of Walker County railroads. The piece has been in development since 2009, but is unfortunately far from done. This is a tiny, tiny bit of the research included in that long article that might very well never be complete.

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7 comments so far

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  1. I have the resources to complete the research and all that is needed including the history of old No. 80 and its adventures with Southern RR and NS.

    Contact me….if you can.

  2. We’ve got the research, a lot of photos and links and old reports, but the problem is putting it all together coherently and having the time to do it. But if you’ve got anything, feel free to e-mail it to us.

    — LU

  3. John Chambless – along with several other men – owned TAG for a couple of years before the Coverdale Syndicate bought it in 1929. After that he was simply a stock holder and board member. The Chambliss Syndicate bought the railroad from Webster James after he inherited it from his father Chattanooga developer C. E. James. It was Coverdale that rebuilt TAG and made it solidly profitable. After Coverdale passed the railroad was sold to Garrison Siskin of Siskin Steel. Southern payed Siskin for TAG just to kill it.

  4. Chambliss owned a majority stake in the line until they sold out to Southern in the 70’s. His friendship/law partnership with Estes Kefauver, US Senator from Tennessee who ran for President a few times, helped them battle competition at the federal level for decades.

    We have a chapter-length blog post cooking about all this but it’s been on hold for years due to more pressing matters.

    — LU

  5. Garrison Siskin owned TAG from the mid 1950 s till he sold it to Southern. I write the TAG society newsletter and am working on a book on TAG. I have reams of TAG files and many binders full of TAG photographs and slides. You can trust what I tell you with regard to this railroad. Siskin was the whole owner of TAG when it was sold to Southern. Mr. Chambliss was on the board at that point by virtue of his status in the community. Every point regarding TAG I make I can easily prove.

  6. Sounds like you have better material than what we uncovered – I am not arguing with you. I’d be happy to see anything you have, and look forward to reading your book.

    — LU

  7. I am a Chattooga County native but I am in Paulding County now. I work at the Atlanta airport. I tried to drive it for nine months but 103 miles one way is no fun. My folks still live just outside Summerville. Anyone who wants to talk TAG or Central of Georgia or Estelle Mining railroad or even the street railways that came into Walker County from Chattanooga. I especially enjoy studying the Durham branch from Chickamauga to Durham that crossed TAG at Cenchat. Although I don’t break copyright, I share what I have freely where I can. If you feel like driving to Hiram I’ll let you access my stuff. I also know a few other Walker County amateur rail historians. NW Georgia has a really compelling rail history and I which more people were interested in it.