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SARM marks 10th anniversary

Southern Appalachia Railway Museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary Saturday, Oct. 4.

The museum runs “Secret City Scenic Tour” train rides through the former Manhattan Project site of the K-25 uranium enrichment plant.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, riders will be invited to enjoy birthday cake Oct. 4.

“We’re going to have a couple of big sheet cakes out there and offer some birthday cake to people,” Museum Director Jim Gaudy said.

Also Oct. 4, SARM will begin running fall color trips, which run through K-25 to Poplar Creek and Blair. Fall color tours will depart at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays, only in October.

According to Gaudy, fall color rides are always popular, and he suggests reservations. The train cars hold about 108 people.

Fall color tours generally run about one hour and fifteen minutes and will be pulled by an Alco C-420 engine, formerly used on the L&N Railroad in the 1960s and 1970s.

The engine was restored and repainted by museum volunteers.

SARM is a non-profit, all volunteer museum.

“These people are all like myself. I never worked a railroad in my life. I’m from the advertising business,” Gaudy said.

“I’ve always loved trains, and that’s the only requirement for membership in our museum,” he added.

According to Gaudy, a handful of Knoxville residents and “rail enthusiasts” began to dream of SARM in 1990.

“They felt that it was a worthy cause to try to preserve the railroad legacy and the history of railroading in East Tennessee and the South and use it as an instructional tool,” Gaudy said.

Railroads opened the country to development as communities sprang up around depots and train stops, he added.

“They felt that was a very important historical message. So they started pooling their resources and scraping up enough money to buy a piece of equipment here and a piece of equipment there,” Gaudy said.

By October 1998, these men had enough equipment “to actually operate a scenic excursion train,” Gaudy said.

The group gained permission from the Department of Energy to use the Manhattan Project’s railroad, which was built in 1943, and began running tours.

Since that time, SARM has run scenic tours to the “Secret City,” as “car hosts on each ride” explain the details of the Manhattan Project and its impact on the outcome of World War II.

In the next year, SARM hopes to construct a museum and depot on five acres south of K-25. In order to qualify for a government grant, the Museum must raise $120,000.

Because the Museum is a 501 (c)(3), SARM depends on ticket sales and donations to operate and for future construction and expansion.

Tickets for rides are $15 for adults and $10 for children ages three through 12. For more information, visit or call 865-241-2140.


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