Restoration of Old Locomotive 576 resumes after March storm damage

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – If you grew up in Nashville or in Middle Tennessee you’re likely to have seen the old locomotive “576” in Centennial Park near the Parthenon. You may have even taken a field trip to the park as a child and climbed up on the old steam engine. It was on display as part of Nashville’s history for sixty-five years.

Locomotive 576 in Centennial Park courtesy of the Nashville Steam Preservation Society
Locomotive 576 in Centennial Park courtesy of the Nashville Steam Preservation Society

In 2019, it was towed to the Tennessee Central Railroad Museum for restoration by the Nashville Steam Preservation Society to become a fully working and operational locomotive again, with the hopes of one day pulling special excursions out of downtown Nashville like the Tennessee Central Excursion.

Locomotive 576 leaving Centennial Park in 2019 (WKRN)

But on March 25, a severe storm with strong straight-line winds damaged the building it was being restored in, creating an expensive setback.

Damage to the building from the March 25, 2021 storm courtesy of the Nashville Steam Preservation Society
Damage to the building from the March 25, 2021 storm courtesy of the Nashville Steam Preservation Society

“Luckily, the appeal of this locomotive is actually nationwide,” explained Joey Bryan, historian for The Nashville Steam Preservation Society. “We started a recovery relief effort as soon as the storm hit, actually the next day. And we had about $12,000 worth of donations come in from people in Nashville and all across the country to help clean up the debris and help rebuild what was damaged here in the shop, so we could get back to work on the locomotive.”

They hope to raise an additional $600,000 to do the restoration of the 15,000-pound wheels and framework. It will cost about $13,000 to rent two cranes to lift the steam engine up to remove the wheels to send them to Chattanooga for about ten to eleven months for a complete refurbishment.

Locomotive 576 under restoration (WKRN)

But it’s a labor of love for everyone at the Nashville Steam Preservation Society.

“Everyone who works on the locomotive grew up with it in the park, and they had that attachment to it,” said Bryan. “They would climb on it and dream of what it looked like going down the track. So, everyone here has that life-long love of the locomotive and they want to see it operate again.”

If you wish to donate for the restoration efforts go to nashvillesteam.org.

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