I was going through my collection of railroad songs and found this vid that I had not seen before. Intrigued I looked up the North Carolina Transportation Museum.
The museum was founded in 1977, when the Southern Railway deeded 4 acres of land to North Carolina for a transportation museum. Two years later, another 53 acres 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.
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 1924-1953 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 museum is the largest repository of rail relics in North and South Carolina and averages 80,000 visitors annually. About three-thousand people were employed to repair the trains at the Spencer Shops in the first half of the twentieth century.
In 2005, the museum’s Back Shop underwent a massive renovation. This building, where the full overhaul of steam locomotives once took place, is most notable for its size. It is two football fields long and nearly three stories tall. However, it may be most notable 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. In 2017 the backshop was opened completely, allowing more exhibits.
Alas, I have never been there.