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North Carolina Transportation Museum, Spencer

(260+ reviews on the web)
Specialty Museum Museum
The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a museum in Spencer, North Carolina. It is a collection of automobiles, aircraft, and railway vehicles. The museum is located at the former Southern Railway's 1896-era Spencer Shops and devotes much of its space to the state's railroad history. The museum has the largest collection of rail relics in the Carolinas. Its Back Shop building of nearly three stories high is most notable for its size of two football fields long.HistoryThe museum was founded in 1977, when the Southern Railway deeded 4acre of land to North Carolina for a transportation museum. Two years later, another 53acre was added to the original donation; the entirety of the railway's largest former steam locomotive repair shops. The museum's first exhibit called People, Places and Time opened in 1983. 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 as 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, built in 1924, are devoted to locomotives and rolling stock in the museum collection restored by volunteers. It was here that steam locomotives from 1896-1953 were repaired. In the first 16 stalls, visitors can walk among the massive locomotives and rail cars on display in an open-air setting. Moving into the enclosed Elmer Lam gallery in stalls 17 through 20, aviation exhibits dominate, with a full size replica Wright Flyer, Piedmont Airlines exhibits, and more. Moving into the restoration shop occupying stalls 21 through 32, visitors may also see volunteers working on various railroad pieces, and even manufacturing parts. The remaining five stalls are dedicated to additional enclosed exhibits.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This place has an excellent exhibits and histories of railroading in and around North Carolina. It has a number of interactive exhibits. However, the 25 minute train ride had no narration so you did k...  more »
  • We spent over two hours here thoroughly enjoying the historical displays of steam trains. There are lots of opportunities for hands-on activities, including a huge sandbox for the very young. I recomm...  more »
  • While planning a trip to the Charlotte area, we started looking for things to entertain a 4-year-old and a 37-year old. We found the N.C. Aviation Museum, housing the airliner famously landed in the H...  more »