This is a snap shot taken by an unknown photographer. The print has been in my collection for decades, and I have no recollection of where it came from. However, I do know this is train 46, the north/eastbound “Tennessean” departing Southern’s Kemper Street Station in Lynchburg, VA. The 11-car train is pulled by Southern 2905 (E7A) and 2927 (E8A). Assuming the train was on time, it should be about 3:30 PM. Since N&W and Southern crews changed at Monroe, a few miles north of Lynchburg, this would be an N&W engine crew in charge. Although 46 is operating on the Southern's main line here, technically it's still an N&W train until it reaches Monroe. And, it appears the Roanoke-based engineer is quickly accelerating 46 on the last sprint to Monroe so he and his fireman can tie up and sit down to a good hot supper.
The “Tennessean” was inaugurated on May 17, 1941 as a streamlined replacement for the old interline heavyweight (on the Southern, with N&W handling the train between Monroe/Lynchburg and Bristol) “Memphis Special.” From the beginning, it was handled by diesel power (first by E6 units, and famously by Alco PA2s during much of the ‘60s), except for N&W steam on its segment, and initially, by streamlined Southern Ps-4 Pacific 1380 between DC and Monroe, VA.
The eastbound run departed Memphis each evening and arrived at Knoxville shortly after daybreak. The daylight portion of its run would continue all the way to Washington, with arrival in New York before midnight. At the time of this photo, 45-46 handled Pullmans between NYC and Memphis, Chattanooga and Memphis, and an unusual Bristol-Nashville sleeper handled by the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis overnight local between Chattanooga and the Music City.
Had this been shot a little over a year and a half earlier, an N&W class J 4-8-4 would have been on the head end. Beginning on New Year’s Day in 1958, however, run-through Southern diesels replaced The Js on the middle portion of the run. The Alco PAs were also pulled off in favor of Southern’s EMD power. The train’s fortunes declined until 1966, when it was combined with the DC-New Orleans “Pelican” on the same route between DC and Chattanooga. The Chattanooga to Memphis section was finally annulled in 1968, and the “Tennessean” was no more.