My first job out of college was at Duke Power’s (Energy’s) old coal-fired steam generating plant in Spencer, NC. While working there, I got to know a lot of the maintenance men, many of whom would tell stories of their work at the “Spencer Shops.” They were referring to their previous jobs working for Southern Railway at their large maintenance yard in the town of Spencer. At one time, these large facilities had been a major contributor to the success of Southern Railway. By the time I got there, the Spencer Shops had long been shut down, and were just a rusting eyesore. However, some years later beginning in 1977, Southern Railway gave the facility to the state of North Carolina. In the years since, it has been developed into a very attractive museum focusing on the evolution of transportation in NC. Of course, there’s heavy emphasis on railroads and their contribution to the state. Check out the details for the NC Transportation Museum HERE.
I’d been meaning to go there for years, and finally made it this year, accompanied by my mother-in-law’s husband, Bill Parlier. Bill is in his mid-eighties and remembers when rail travel was in its heyday. We spent the better part of a day there and had a great time. The museum includes lots of steam engines and rolling stock, including cabooses and passenger cars. You can even take a short ride on at train on the grounds!
If you have any interest in railroading, old automobiles, airplanes and a bit on coastal boats, this is a great way to spend a day and see some cool old hardware and massive maintenance facilities including the original Roundhouse and turntable used to move railroad engines in and out of the Roundhouse. The museum is in Spencer, near Salisbury- about 40 minutes from Mooresville, NC. Here a some photos from our visit, and there’s lots more to see. Check their website for schedules of special events throughout the year.