All aboard! Chances are if you’ve been in the Village, you’ve seen the classic Nashville Express. After all, how could you miss it?! Rolling through town daily from May through October is the large black train, packed full of curious visitors eager to see what’s around the next corner.
A Brown County staple for nearly four decades, the Nashville Express is the perfect way to take in all the sights. Simply sit back and relax on the 2.5 mile scenic tour of Nashville, complete with a brief history lesson from the conductor.
Not only is a ride on the Nashville Express great for previewing the shops and seeing what all the Village has to offer, but it is also a way to discover Brown County’s historic past. A “must do” on everyone’s list, the Nashville Express is fun for all ages and is a tradition that many visitors uphold every time they come to Brown County.
Speaking of tradition…the Nashville Express has its own bit of hidden heritage that not many people know about. Luckily I got the inside scoop from the train’s co-owner, Brad Cox.
It all started with his dad in the 1980s. When the economy took a turn for the worse, Cox’s dad, who previously was a successful homebuilder and subdivision developer, left it all behind to move to Brown County. It was in the quaint town of Nashville that he found refuge from tough times and first got involved with the train, which had been in business since 1973.
“Brown County and the Nashville Express were a sanctuary for my dad,” explained Cox. “He came down here, really took an interest in the train, and over time built up the business. So much so that he ended up buying into the train and becoming a partner.”
Growing up around the train and in Brown County, Cox was able to see firsthand what a memorable experience the Nashville Express was for both local residents and visitors. When his dad became ill and passed away a few years ago, Cox knew eventually he had to take his place.
Not wanting to rush into things, especially since he was also busy building up his own home and art studio, Cox Creek Mill, he let some time pass. But not without some nudging from his dad’s former partner, Larry.
“I’ve known Larry for nearly 20 years and he just wouldn’t let it rest,” said Cox. “Finally the timing seemed right and I knew I needed to step up to continue my family’s tradition.”
So there you have it. Cox soon took over Larry’s share of the business, partnering with his dad’s wife, Sheila, as co-owner of the Nashville Express. Keeping his own family legacy alive every day, Cox now manages and maintains this Brown County classic.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Cox utilizes his welding and handyman skills, along with his vibrant personality, to keep the Nashville Express up and running. When he is not busy working on the train, Cox can be found creating unique and original pieces of metal art at his mill. Guess all that welding came in pretty handy as Cox is constantly busy tinkering and upgrading the train!
Bringing smiles to visitors’ faces is second nature to Cox, who strives to give back to the community daily. Not only is he holding on to a personal tradition that is near and dear, but he also is serving the local Brown County community, which he considers to be his second family.
“This town is my family too,” said Cox. “I’ve been living here for about 16 years now and I’ve done work for people around here so I know the community and it’s special to me. I just want to give back.”
With convenient boarding at Fearrin’s Ice Cream (Franklin and Van Buren) in the Village, the Nashville Express provides service to The Seasons Lodge, the Brown County Inn, the Comfort Inn, and the Salt Creek Inn.
“It’s such a great way for big groups to stay together and get into town,” explained Cox. “It completely eliminates the need for them to find parking and since it comes to town every 25 minutes, it’s very convenient too.”
Not only good for big groups, the Nashville Express is an easy mode of transportation that anyone can use…and enjoy! “The train is perfect for those that have a hard time getting around,” said Cox. “The elderly, people with kids, and everyone in between, it’s great for checking out town and getting some base history on the area.”
Looking ahead, Cox has big plans for the Nashville Express, including more evening activities. “I’d really like to do some extra tours later in the day,” said Cox. “We could pick people up at their hotels, take them to dinner, and then drive them around to listen to some live music.”
“Nighttime in Brown County could use a pick-me-up and I honestly think the train could do that,” declared Cox. Sounds like a good plan to me! Think of it like a taxi service, but just Brown County style.
Whatever time of day it may be, for Cox, riding the Nashville Express is all about making memories. “I’ve seen three generations at a time ride on the train,” he said. “People have memories and they come back time and time again to ride because it’s part of a tradition they’ve created here. I want to keep that going.”
Take the train in and out of town, or simply sightsee during a day of shopping. Either way, there are memories to be made. Step aboard to keep the legacy alive and start a new tradition of your own on the Nashville Express!
Corner of Van Buren and Franklin Streets, Nashville, IN 47448
Operating daily May – October; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (sometimes longer on weekends)
$5 per person; free for children 5 and under