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North Carolina Transportation Museum, Spencer
(4.2/5 based on 220+ reviews on the web)
The North Carolina Transportation Museum 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.HistoryThe museum was founded in 1977, when the Southern Railway deeded 4acre of land to the state of 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 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see volunteers working on various railroad pieces, and even manufacturing their own parts, as steam engines have been out of date so long it is impossible to obtain replacement parts from any manufacturer.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Price is very reasonable for what is offered and what you can see. Staff is very friendly and helpful 
  • What great gem. Our family had a great Saturday at NCTM love the working roundhouse, all the displays and specially the train ride with the J class steam Engine #611 pulling the way. The staff was rea...  more »
  • I can't believe I've never walked around this museum! What a fantastic place to visit!! Even if you are not a train fanatic, you will become one. Seeing these beauties close up is mesmerizing and awe-...  more »
Google
  • Took my family to the N.C. Transportation Museum last week and was not sure what to expect, other than viewing some old locomotives and rolling stock. Well, I was most pleased with the museum and greatly enjoyed not only seeing the beautifully restored examples, but also seeing works in progress in their shop. The giant old brick building in the center was under renovation, but I am sure it will be spectacular when complete. The short yet fun and informative train ride was a treat, as were all the interactive displays and presentation. All in all, this was a wonderful day trip for the whole family.
  • This was a Day out with Thomas! The train ride ticket are premium priced during the 'Day out with Thomas' event (and events like polar express), so keep that in mind. The schedules are also adjusted for the event. Our Kid is a big fan of Thomas the tank engine, so this was a must do. We bought the ticket online and picked them up at the location. You can have the tickets delivered to your home too if you have time, it costs extra shipping cost. You can also buy ticket even if you have not bought them in advance, if they have them available. There is so much for kids of every age (and adults) to do. Ride with Thomas and Percy, Play with model train sets, antique cars, tattoos, train turntable ride, gift shops, take pictures with Topham hatt, eat some cheeseburgers and funnel cakes, etc. There are picnic shelters to sit down and eat (or stay dry if it rains) The trains are well maintained. The train ride runs about 30 minutes. You can choose from air conditioned and open cars to sit in. The gift shop is well stocked and maintained. The best part was the enthusiasm and helpfulness of the museum staff and volunteers. They really love the work and want you to enjoy the everything that the museum has to offer.
  • Great place to bring your children. We loved the day out with Thomas, but it's sad when you attend a family event like this and your children's toys are stolen instead of being returned. It's not their fault though. My only suggest would be to have more vendors with water spread out and more shade for auch a hot day for little ones in the sun.
  • Went to see Thomas the train and the little had a great time. Train rides weren't as great as what we were expecting but my son still loved. The facility is nice and they are working on more exhibits.
  • I can't wait to go back. The man running the place was very hospitable & more than happy to help me even though I showed up 30 mins before closing. I can't wait to go back.