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108 Front Street
P.O. Box 53
Cowan, TN 37318-0053

Cowan Railroad Museum
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Mark's Train-a-Day

Live CSX Feed



Trainspotting at Cowan, Tennessee

NEW!  CSX Radio Feed

To enhance your trainspotting experience, Cowan Railroad Museum
has installed ATCS to transmit live radio feed from CSX.

Covering the action on the CSX Chattanooga Subdivision.
Pushers are staged in Cowan to assist trains over the Cumberland Mountain.

Or monitor the radio feed from your car radio
or transistor radio on 87.9 FM frequency.
More Info

Located at the foot of the Cumberland Mountains on the CSX mainline, Cowan is an ideal place for trainspotting.   With a park-like atmosphere and convenient restaurants, as well as the Depot, it's the perfect spot to spend hours watching the trains.

Be advised that this is a working high speed main line owned by CSX Transportation Co. It is private property. Remember: Safety First.

Today’s trains are longer and faster than ever before and the pusher engines have kept pace. Pusher engines have ranged the entire scope of locomotives over the years, from the original “Big Mary”, to today’s three axle high horsepower units. There is nothing special about the pusher engines used since about 1946. The operation of them is special however, and special rules govern their use. The pusher engines wait on a side track in the small yard adjacent to the mainline and crews (2 persons per shift) are in constant radio contact with the division’s dispatcher located in Jacksonville, Florida! This way they know what to plan for and where to spot themselves for a speedy connection for the push. They may be required on the Sherwood side of the mountain and therefore can be seen running light in that direction in Cowan. Trains running without aid of pushers are allowed forty miles per hour through town by local ordinance, this is otherwise sixty MPH railroad.

Pushing a train is a balancing act since the trains going over the mountain crest within the Cumberland Tunnel. Slack can “run out”, break a coupling and stop the train. It is unpleasant and difficult to fix if the break is inside the tunnel, and therefore, pushers are not allowed in the tunnel if it is occupied by a train. It is where the “Mountain Goat” (nickname for the Tracy City Branch) crosses over the portal of the tunnel on a fine small stone arch deck bridge. A very scenic and dramatic place, often photographed since its being built. (This is a relatively inaccessible spot on the map so various period and recent views are available inside the depot.) This is the only known place on earth that such a railroad feature exists (branchline crossing over a mainline).

Please respect the no trespassing signs of CSX and stay off the tracks. The train crews are friendly but just doing a job and it is dangerous to distract them with more than a friendly greeting. Sometimes they are able to acknowledge your enthusiasm, sometimes not….

Railroads are dangerous places: Look both ways and "Safety First" will add to your enjoyment of the drama that unfolds every day at Cowan.

Further information on the Pusher District History.

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