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Museum's train a rare Valentine treat

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Southern Appalachia Railway Museum will roll out its restored 88-year old Pullman dining car for its annual Valentine dinner trains.

An assortment of four entrée choices await couples, who have  an opportunity to experience the romantic setting enjoyed by travelers during the golden age of rail travel in the 1930s and ’40s.

The museum’s Secret City Scenic Excursion Train’s Valentine trips have become so popular that four departures are planned.

The train will depart at 5 p.m. Feb. 11-12 and at 6 p.m. Feb. 13-14.

Passengers will begin their journey back in time aboard Southern Railway coach Fort Oglethorpe, which was built in 1947.  

They will then be ushered into the classic dining car and greeted by neatly dressed servers. Tables will be set with fine china on crisp, white tablecloths and a long-stemmed rose will await each woman at her table.

Seating is limited; thus, advance reservations are required. Tickets are $140 per couple and include the train ride, dinner and all taxes and gratuities.  Reservations can be made by calling 865-241-2140.

Be prepared to make entrée choices when calling. Choices include bourbon-marinated grilled fillet of beef, herb-marinated grilled chicken breast with white wine sauce, grilled Cajun-style shrimp with pesto cream sauce, and spinach-and-feta-stuffed baked tomato with brie cream sauce.

Full payment by check made out to Southern Appalachia Railway Museum must be mailed to arrive one week before the event.

The train boards next to the Heritage Center on Hwy. 58 in Roane County.

The rides last about an hour and a half and take the diners through the original K-25 uranium enrichment plant site, now known as East Tennessee Technology Park, as well as through the hills and hardwoods of rural Poplar Creek Valley.

The nonprofit museum's volunteers have done all the restoration work on their vintage equipment, and all proceeds from ticket sales go into operating costs, equipment restoration and insurance.  

The museum's mission is to preserve the railroading history of East Tennessee and the South, and to provide public enjoyment and education of that legacy.

A fundraising drive is under way for construction of a museum/depot on land that has been transferred to museum ownership. The building has been designed and site preparation is under way.

A grant for part of the construction is in place, but significant costs over and above the grant are to be borne by the museum. Contributions are gratefully accepted and are fully tax-deductible. To make a contribution, write to SARM, P.O. Box 6756, Oak Ridge, TN 37831; or call 865-241-2140.