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Enjoy Trains, Eats and Antiques in Irondale, Alabama

Updated on July 23, 2021
Wayne Ruple profile image

Wayne Ruple has been writing about travel for several years and many of his videos can be found on YouTube.

The Birmingham Special

Southern Railway F3A #6707 with train 18, the Birmingham Special, at Somerset, Virginia on March 8, 1969.
Southern Railway F3A #6707 with train 18, the Birmingham Special, at Somerset, Virginia on March 8, 1969. | Source
Southern served the South
Southern served the South | Source

Southern Served The South

If you love trains, enjoy a good meal and like to stroll through antique stalls in search of collectible bargains then Irondale, Alabama just might be the place for youl

Southern Railway truly served the South for almost 70 years and the Birmingham Special was perhaps one of the most famous on the line, becoming the namesake the namesake of the famed Glenn Miller big band tune "Chattanooga Choo Choo"

Irondale, a suburb of Birmingham; has always been a big part of railroading and was once the site of Southern Railway's Norris Yard and shops.

Today train fans will find the site a major "hump yard" for Norfolk Southern and Irondale has built two train-watching platforms for fans and visitors to watch the trains and related activities

About 50 trains a day pass the viewing areas including freights and a twice a day run by Amtrack;s Crescent passenger train. .

You can step back in history or enjoy the present comparing the old and new trains running Southern rails.

Engine on display at Train Escape

Big diesels pulled the loads
Big diesels pulled the loads | Source

Train Escape

Train Escape is located at 5407 Beacon Dr, in Irondale, and offers a unique game of sorts in which visitors are locked in a locomotive with no way out and they must search for hidden compartments, secret passageways, and decipher clues to plot their very own Great Train Escape.

According to Trip Advisor this activity/attraction It is a hybrid of a scavenger hunt and a puzzle game. "Teamwork, creativity and resourcefulness is essential to get off this train. Success, failure and fun are inevitable – ESCAPE is not!"

At the present time the "Escape" is closed but you can get up close with an engine and several passenger cars.

And old passenger car serves as part of the Train Escape

Passenger service received good ratings
Passenger service received good ratings | Source

A freight car slowly moves down the tracks


Irondale Alabama

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A viewing platform enables visitors to get close to the tracks

Train watchers get a front row seat
Train watchers get a front row seat | Source

Approach to the working yard


Historic restaurant still open for business

Enjoy a meal at the Irondale Cafe
Enjoy a meal at the Irondale Cafe | Source

Irondale is home to the Irondale Cafe better known as the Whistle Stop Cafe made famous in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes"

The author of the book 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" She was born and raised in nearby Birmingham.

Today the restaurant draws locals as well as tourists and continues to offer fried green tomatoes and a popular buffet

It has a rich history and began in 1928 as a hot dog stand.

Pickers is an antique lovers hot spot

Pickers has plenty of antiques and collectibles to choose from
Pickers has plenty of antiques and collectibles to choose from | Source

If you visit Train Escape then you are already in the parking lot of Irondale Pickers, and be prepared because this vast building contains over 400 vendors displaying all manner of antiques, collectibles, furniture, unique crafts, jewelry and art.

Southern Railway 1950's Film

Irondale part of active tourism area

In addition to trains and antiques visitor to Irondale are only a few miles away from the largest city in Alabama - Birmingham, which offers several museums, walking trails, restaurants, Birmingham Botanical Gardens and the Birmingham Zoo and other activities.

Eastward off I-20 near Leeds there is plenty of shopping at The Outlet Shoppes of Grande River, Bass Pro Shop and the Barber Motorsports Museum which has the largest motorcycle collection in the world.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Wayne Ruple


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