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North Carolina Travel Guide
NC Transportation Museum

North Carolina Transportation MuseumThe North Carolina Transportation Museum is located on the site of what was once Southern Railway Company's largest steam locomotive repair facility. Begun in 1896 at a point halfway between Washington and Atlanta, Spencer Shops and the town of Spencer, N.C. were both named for Samuel Spencer, the first President of Southern Railway. The site contains an authentic train depot, antique automobiles, and a 37 stall roundhouse that includes 25 locomotives and other exhibit areas. The museum offers seasonal train rides, guided tours, and special events scheduled throughout the year

 History of Spencer Shops

North Carolina Transportation Museum locomotivesFounded by Southern Railway in 1896 as a large repair facility halfway between Atlanta GA and Washington, DC. Repairs, overhauls and maintenance were done on steam locomotives and later on freight equipment. Dieselization of the Southern Railway in the 1950s made most of the buildings at Spencer Shops obsolete. Diesels could be repaired in half the time and with fewer people. A majority of the shops closed in 1960. Diesel repairs continued at Spencer Shops until the late 1970s when the repairs and servicing of locomotives was moved to the new Linwood Yard about 12 miles north in Davidson County. In 1977 Southern Railway gave a little more than 3 acres to the State of North Carolina. In 1979 they gave another 54 acres for a total of 57acres.

History of the Museum

North Carolina Transportation Museum BuickThe Visitor Center, located originally in the Master Mechanic’s Office, opened in 1980, followed by the first exhibits in 1983. In 1987, the volunteers began operation of the train ride. 1990 saw the opening of a new exhibit area, “Bumper to Bumper,” representing automobiles through the decades. 1996 saw major improvements including the opening of the Bob Julian Roundhouse exhibit area representing trains, an updating of the earlier exhibit area “Wagons, Wheels and Wings,” representing other forms of transportation, a new gift shop and the opening of the Barber Junction Depot as the museum’s Visitor Center.

Support for the museum

The museum is owned and operated by the State of North Carolina, Department of Cultural Resources, Division of State Historic Sites. The North Carolina Transportation History Corporation was formed in 1977 as a non-profit to support the North Carolina Transportation Museum. In 1996, they changed their name to the North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation to better describe the function of the organization.

Museum Hours:
April1 – October 31 Monday – Saturday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday 1–5 p.m.
November 1 – March 31: Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday 1–4 p.m.
The Museum is closed New Years Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Holidays.

Public Programs

North Carolina Transportation MuseumA 25-minute train ride is offered daily April 1 – Labor Day and weekends in March and September- December. No rides are available in January and February. The train operates at 11 a.m., 1, 2, and 3 p.m. Monday – Saturday, and 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. A fee is charged. Steam-powered rides are offered on weekends after June 1; at other times the diesel operates. Cab rides are available on diesel locomotives only, on a first-come, first-served basis. A fee is charged for cab rides.

The turntable was used to turn locomotives at the Roundhouse and still operates for our visitors and our trains. A five-minute ride on the turntable at the Roundhouse is available on the half-hour for $1.

A 15-minute film on the “History of Spencer” is available in the Roundhouse Orientation Room. The film is offered on the quarter hour and there is no charge.

Educational Programs

Schools are offered guided tours, classroom activities, a ride on the turntable and a ride on the train for a small fee. Schools are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Volunteer Programs

Mechanical volunteers work in the shop area on trains, operate the train ride and assist with trackwork and restoration projects. Interpretive Volunteers give tours to school groups, assist with special events, give the narration on the train ride and greet/orient the visitors to the museum.

411 South Salisbury Avenue, Spencer, N.C. 28159, Phone:  (704) 636-2889

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