Sunday, December 4, 2016

North Carolina Transportation Museum

Spencer, North Carolina is located north east of Charlotte on I-85. We are at a campground in the area, saw the Museum sign and decided to visit. Entry fee was $6.00 each plus $4.00 to take a short train ride. It turned out to be a bargain for the small fee. It's a large site that was a railroad yard and repair center. The State of NC and a foundation operates the museum. When you think of a museum, it's usually in a building. This museum involves many buildings on many acres. Lots of railroad history plus some auto and airplane history. The largest building was the Back Shop where locomotives were overhauled. That building is the size of two football fields. It was the largest building in North Carolina for many years. It's being renovated and will contain more displays including a Piedmont Airlines DC-3 airplane. That building opens next year. Here is the link to the web site for more details.

The North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation has a number of volunteers and some of them actually restore locomotives and train cars in the roundhouse. If you have ever stood next to a locomotive, you can imagine the work that it would take to do restoration. Just the size of the bolts would be a struggle to work with. During operation, these engines required inspection every 125 miles and major work every 250 miles so in their day, there was plenty of employment in the railroad business. At it's peak, 3000 people worked at Spencer. 

The site began in 1896 and closed in 1977 when it was turned over to North Carolina. The first museum exhibits opened in 1983. The 37-stall Bob Julian Roundhouse is very interesting. The turntable in the yard would rotate a train to connect with the track that went into one of the 37 stalls. Inspections and minor repairs were done at the roundhouse with major repairs in the large Back Shop building.

For a history of steam locomotives visit this web site

I took too many photos to load here but here are some of them:

One building contains antique cars. Most are Fords. I saw a Buick and Edsel.
My dad would know every one of these cars and it's history.
I can't tell you much myself but these are worth a fortune.

A hot rod in it's day

This one I know all about. A Chevrolet Corvair from the 1960's. I worked on these cars at Chris Volz Motors in Milan, Indiana. They were aluminum air cooled rear engines and the screws and bolts always seized up and snapped off in the aluminum engine block. The other mechanics hid from the service manager when one of these came in for work!

The turn table lined up engines and cars to enter the roundhouse

It rotates around to the track to each roundhouse bay.
It's used today to get engines and cars in and out of the roundhouse.

This engine was built by Lima Locomotive Works #1925.
It was hauled to California and won a steam engine race

Another view of the #1925

Several engines were in the roundhouse.
This is an Atlantic Coast Line LEGACY 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler Steam Locomotive

The coal hole inside a steam locomotive.
They had to shovel the coal in from the coal tender that was just behind the engine.

Seaboard Air Line #544, one of over 200 undelivered Russian Decapods

The cow catcher

This diesel-electric locomotive in the roundhouse is the Southern Railway #6900,
built by Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in 1951. It's in service at the museum.

A luxury car used by a railroad executive. This car is huge and long as two regular cars.
It's like a motor home on the rails.

This light was an one of the trains that carried FDR across the US after he died in office.

A mail car used until airplanes took over mail delivery across the US.

This was a hospital car used to carry injured troops to hospitals in the US from WWII and Korea.

Lunch was good at Bebops in Spencer, across the highway from the museum

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