North Carolina Transportation Museum
|North Carolina Transportation Museum|
|Collection size||Railroad artifacts and equipment, road vehicles, airplanes.|
The North Carolina Transportation Museum (reporting mark NCMX) is a transport museum in Spencer, North Carolina. The museum is largely devoted to the state's railroad history; however, its collection also includes exhibits of automobiles and aircraft. It is the largest repository of rail relics in North and South Carolina and averages 80,000 visitors annually. The museum is located at the former Southern Railway's 1896-era Spencer Shops.
The museum was founded in 1977, when the Southern Railway deeded 4 acres (16,000 m2) of land to the state of North Carolina for a transportation museum. Two years later, another 53 acres (210,000 m2) was added to the original donation; the entirety of the railway's largest former steam locomotive repair shops. The museum's first exhibit opened in 1983, called People, Places and Time. The museum grew over the years, most notably in 1996, with the opening of Barber Junction, a relocated railroad depot from some 30 miles away, and the newly renovated Bob Julian Roundhouse. Barber Junction serves the museum's Visitor's Center and departure point for the on-site train ride. The Bob Julian Roundhouse serves as the hub for most of the museum's railroad exhibits, but also includes aviation exhibits and site history.
Several bays of the Spencer Shops roundhouse are devoted to volunteered restorations of locomotives and rolling stock in the museum collection. It was here that the 542 was worked on and steam locomotives from 1896-1953 were repaired. In the first 16 stalls, visitors can walk among the massive locomotives and rail cars on display. Moving into the Elmer Lam gallery, aviation exhibits dominate, with a full size replica Wright Flyer, Piedmont Airlines exhibits, and more. Moving into the restoration bays, visitors may also see volunteers working on various railroad pieces, and even manufacturing their own parts, as steam engines have been out of date so long it is impossible to obtain replacement parts from any manufacturer.
The Flue Shop, where all of the flues for steam engines were formerly produced, as become the Bumper To Bumper exhibit, featuring vintage and antique cars. These include several Model Ts, a Model A and even a Ford Model R (the 1907 predecessor to the Model T). A Highway Patrol car from 1935, a Divco Milk Truck, a Lincoln Continental and others are also part of the museum's collection.
In 2005, the museum's Back Shop underwent a massive renovation, which included repairs to the roof, re-pointing of the brick, and a stabilization of the building's floor. This building, where the full overhaul of steam locomotives once took place, is most notable for its size and scope. Nearly three stories tall and two football fields long, it was once the largest industrial building in the state. It may be most notable, however, for the words "Be Careful," standing some three feet tall, visible from nearly anywhere on the north end of the site. In 2009, the museum opened the Back Shop to the public for the first time, with an access ramp on the south end. "Behind the Scenes" tours and special events often featuring a full Back Shop tour.
The museum has a heritage railroad, which operates passenger excursion trains several times per day, year round, but on a seasonal schedule. Trains are powered by diesel locomotives from the museum's collection. Cab rides can be purchased at Barber Junction.
Visitors may also purchase tickets to ride the roundhouse turntable on selected days.
The museum hosts a number of events annually and some one-time railroading events that bring rail fans from across the country. In 2012, the Bob Julian Roundhouse was the stage for all 20 of Norfolk Southern's Heritage locomotives during a two day photographic event. In 2014, the museum hosted Streamliners at Spencer, with notable 1930s - 1950s era locomotives gathered around the Bob Julian Roundhouse turntable for a four day event. Streamliners at Spencer included the Class J 611 Steam Passenger locomotive, visiting from the Virginia Museum of Transportation. This notable locomotive remained in Spencer for repair and restoration work to allow it to once again pull passenger excursions across the southeast.
Other annual events include Day Out With Thomas, the Polar Express, the Easter Bunny Express, and Spring and Autumn Train Excursions that take visitors to destination cities.
The museum's roster contains almost 30 locomotives.
- Graham County 3-truck shay # 1925
- Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 # 4/Spencer (painted Southern letters) 2-8-0 # 604
- Southern 2-8-0 # 542
- Seaboard Air Line 2-10-0 # 544
- Norfolk and Western J Class #611 (Under restoration, property of the Virginia Museum of Transportation)
- Southern E8A-Unit # 6900
- Norfolk & Western GP9 # 620
- Atlantic Coast Line E3A-Unit # 501[on rent]
- Southern GP30 # 2601
- Southern FP7-Unit # 6133
- US Navy switcher # 65-00556
- Duke Power Plymouth switcher # 5951
- USA/Beaufort & Morehead H12-44 # 1860
- Norfolk Southern Railway (former) #1616
- Amtrak F40PHR # 307
- The Doris, a private rail car owned by James B. Duke of the American Tobacco Company and Southern Power Company. He named it after his daughter, Doris. Its amenities included a $400 set of embroidered napkins.
- The Loretto, a private rail car built in 1902 for steel magnate Charles M. Schwab and later owned by Spring Mills in Fort Mill, South Carolina. It features stained glass windows and ornate carvings finished in gold leaf.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to North Carolina Transportation Museum.|
- North Carolina Transportation Museum website
- Video of North Carolina Transportation Museum artifacts