Nemo Train Tunnels are Closed!!!
Unfortunately, because of one avoidable mistake the Nemo Train Tunnels are Closed. On the afternoon of March 6th, 2022, Norfolk Southern manifest freight train 123 struck a classic 1967 GMC Pickup Truck at Nemo, Tennessee.
We hope Local Officials and the Off-Road Organizations can work out an agreement with Norfolk Southern to reopen the Nemo Train Tunnels.
The adventure of a lifetime for most would be the opportunity to visit a historic abandoned train tunnel and either walk or drive through one. You might ask “How Can This Happen”? The abandoned Nemo train tunnels are just 6 miles SW of Wartburg, Tennessee. Nemo is situated in the East Tennessee Mountains, just north of the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. This area is full of many different attractions, but it’s rare to come across train tunnels like these. There are actually two abandoned tunnels, which are both accessible to the general public to explore. When you’re looking for new adventures these tunnels are great for Easy Off Roading in East Tennessee and are a total step back in time.
Walk-Thru or Drive-Thru Tunnels
Note: The tunnels are old and from age can be hazardous. At the time this article was written the tunnel seemed stable. If conditions change let us know. WARNING! You will be driving next to active Train Tracks. Stay away from the tracks. Trains come without warning every 15 to 20 minutes.
Just outside The Catoosa Wildlife Management Area are two one-of-a-kind tunnels, both of which you can travel through at your leisure. In fact, you can easily explore one of these tunnels on foot. The tunnel isn’t dangerous, but it is cold, dark and gives off an eerie feeling upon entrance. In fact, it’s the suspense and anticipation of what you might see that makes it exciting. A short 5-10 minute walk will take you from one end of the tunnel to the other and a flashlight will definitely be needed.
If you would prefer to drive instead, there is another tunnel suitable for any stock off road vehicle. Tunnel #24 makes off roading in Tennessee a blast! It will be a naturally dark ride, however, so you’ll want to equip your vehicle with a suitable amount of lights so you can see where you’re going. This will be handy in case of hazards, such as standing water which may collect up to mid-tire within the tunnel’s depths. Tunnel #24 is also the longest tunnel to explore in the area. Eventually, you’ll find yourself traveling in pitch darkness so dense there will be no visible light ahead of or behind you. We guarantee a trip through Tunnel #24 will top as the crowning moment of your trip! If you’d like to experience what the tunnel is really like before your trip, you can find videos online from other people’s tours.
Explore Trails Outside the Tunnels
These abandoned train tunnels are just east of the Rock Creek Campgrounds and Catoosa Wildlife Management Area on the east bank of the Emory River, so there is plenty to see around them as well. Natural trails are available for hiking, biking and even kayaking and fishing on the Emory and Obed Rivers. Once you get through to the other side of a tunnel, you’re naturally transitioned into a trail where you can continue exploring. Your adventure doesn’t stop at the end of the tunnel! Visit The Catoosa Wildlife Management Area which features numerous other dirt roads to travel and hiking trails – too many, in fact, to explore within one day, or even one trip! You will want to make sure you have a cooler full of drinks and food so you can spend the whole day enjoying nature.
Important: Landowners May Close Access
Readers Comment: “The tunnel is not in the management area, the road to the tunnel is on private property and the tunnel is part of the rail road easement. This is an important point to make: All visitors on the south end access road, to the tunnels, needs to respect the land owners property. The landowners allow the access road to stay open to get to the tunnel. Only drive on the access road and do not do any off roading on the access road or along the easement! Some people are tearing up the landowners property and they May Close Access.”
The historic Nemo Train Bridge is a must see while you are there. This bridge is part of the Cumberland Trail system. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Cumberland Trail System is in the process of saving this wonderful bridge. To read more about the Nemo Bridge CLICK HERE.
Wildlife Management Area Regulations
The Nemo Tunnels are located just north of the Catoosa Wildlife Management Area.
It is important to review Tennessee Wildlife Management Area’s General Regulations for specific restrictions to make your trip worry free.
Motorized Vehicles Requirements:
All motorized vehicles must be muffler equipped to suppress noise and be spark-arrestor equipped to prevent fires. Operation of motorized vehicles is confined to roads not designated as closed. Off-road vehicles are restricted to roads open to other motorized traffic (except where prohibited by state or federal statute) and designated trails only. ORVs may be operated during daylight hours and at other times when participating in authorized activities.
Driving off roads into woods, fields or utility right-of-ways is prohibited for all motorized vehicles.
Motorized vehicles may be prohibited on any Agency-owned Wildlife Management Area if deemed necessary to protect wildlife, vegetation and/or property. Some exceptions apply. Review Tennessee Wildlife Management Area’s General Regulations.
Plenty to See and Come Back for More
Whether you have children or just want to get a group of friends together to explore these abandoned tunnels, you’re sure to have a great time. Some of the trails follow the Obed River, which has plenty to see and explore as well. Once you make a stop at Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, you’ll want to come back to do some more exploring in Morgan County, Tennessee pretty soon. There’s so much to do in this area that we could not cover all of the information about Morgan County. For more information on Morgan County TN CLICK HERE.
If you’re a history buff, a railroad fan or just a seeker of the unusual, there may not be a better experience than the abandoned Nemo train tunnels in Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more adventures like these.