Harriman, Tennessee, is a major railroad junction where Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific's Cincinnati to Harriman line [known around the world as the "Rat Hole Division" because of the huge number of tunnels on the line] meets with Norfolk Southern's lines to Knoxville, Chattanooga and Atlanta. Harriman is also the site of a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal-fired generating plant.
The majority of the train scenes in October Sky were filmed around Harriman. Many of the scenes were filmed inside TVA property and are not accessible to the public today.
39. Train with Homer. The real Homer Hickam, Jr. is in the cab. The train was brought in from Chattanooga, Tennessee, just for the filming of October Sky. The picture was taken in Harriman, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of the Baxter and Shelby Trail collection.
The steam locomotive used in the movie October Sky belongs to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Rail Transportation Management Specialists (RTMS) was hired by the movie production company to coordinate all of the railroad equipment used in the movie. This included getting the Norfolk Southern railway to move the steam locomotive and a train of coal cars from Chattanooga to the filming locations around Knoxville. RTMS has to insure that trains were in the right place each day, that the proper permits had been obtained, that security was available, and a thousand other things. The RTMS web site used to have many pictures of the filming of October Sky and contains a lot of information on everything RTMS had to do for the filming. Unfortunately, all of the October Sky material has been removed. (We suspect their may have been copyright issues with Universal Pictures.) http://www.rtms-movietrains.com/