Posts Tagged ‘nc transportation museum’

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By Shavonne Potts

spotts@salisburypost.com

SPENCER — Rail fans from as far as Japan and England will descend upon the N.C. Transportation Museum today and Wednesday for what has been hailed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

To commemorate Norfolk Southern Corp.’s 30th anniversary, the Norfolk Southern Heritage Locomotive fleet is on display for a couple of days at the museum.

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View amazing photos and videos from The Norfolk Southern Corp.’s 30th Anniversary, please visit the NC Transportation Museum’s FACEBOOK PAGE.

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Source: http://www.salisburypost.com

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com

SPENCER — The Robert Julian Roundhouse and Turntable are probably the most popular attractions at the N.C. Transportation Museum and on Saturday they were designated a historic mechanical engineering landmark.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) presented the distinction to the museum at a ceremony during the Spring Kick Off event.

The Spring Kick Off featured a host of activities such as rides on the Flagg 75 Steam Engine, live music, the museum’s regular passenger train, miniature golf and others.

The Spencer facility is one of the few remaining early 20th century railroad locomotive repair shops in the U.S. It was built by Southern Railway in 1924 to repair steam locomotives.

The roundhouse and turntable were modified and expanded from 1948 to 1950 to accommodate Southern Railways diesel engines.

In 1979, the complex was donated to the state. In 1996, the roundhouse and turntable were refurbished and opened to the public.

The designation is to recognize the contribution of the roundhouse and turntable to the “progress of American railroading and evolution of mechanical engineering,” said Mark Brown, the museum’s information and communication specialist.

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The N.C. Transportation Museum’s 2011 Family Rail Days Festival, scheduled June 11 and 12, will celebrate the golden age of railroading and offer something for every member of the family.

Featuring historic locomotives and rail cars displayed alongside modern rail equipment, the event will give visitors a chance to enjoy train rides, great music, model train layouts.

For more info, visit: http://nctrans.org/Events/Rail-Days.aspx

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Source: http://www.salisburypost.com

The Flagg 75 steam engine spits, coughs, breathes heavily and blows off a lot of steam before it finally moves.

In other words, I can relate.

I hopped into the cab of the 1930 workhorse locomotive Saturday morning as Engineer John Barnett of Raleigh backed it onto the roundtable at the N.C. Transportation Museum.

We took about a quarter turn before locking in and heading south on our warm-up run. The white steam we released made us a moving cloud at first.

On the right side of the cab, Barnett manned the throttle. Also within reach were the reverse gear, the locomotive and train brakes, injectors for water and even levers to release sand for more traction on the tracks.

“It’s easy to operate, but they can be temperamental,” Barnett said of these coal-fired beasts.

Going forward, Barnett can watch the tracks ahead through a small window. Or in forward or reverse, he can poke his head out the side opening, much like a happy dog hanging out the window of his master’s car.

Also on board was Fireman Gil Williams of Lexington, S.C., and Mike Stovall of Greensboro, a fireman in training. All three men are regular transportation museum volunteers who love anything to do with trains and their operation.

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So, it seems The Daniel Boone Railroad and theme park in Hillsborough is fondly remembered by many. These posts continue to be some of the most popular. Recently, I received a note from someone we’ll call “Camo” and he shares the same memories I do. The difference: he’s been to what’s left of the park several times and sent me some pictures. I asked Camo if he’d write up a guest blog post and agreed. Enjoy!

Dear Tarheel Trains,
Growing up in NC in the late sixties and seventies offered many distinct advantages, especially if one were an only child. I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of hand me downs from older cousins. Often these cast offs were in the form of Western toys such as Johnny West. These toys were usually broken or incomplete, but I didn’t mind because I was thrilled just to have them!

To augment the toys of the time, Western theme parks were popular places of amusement.  Because of a near catastrophe my family experienced while leaving Beech Mountain (the brakes on my dads Oldsmobile overheated coming down the mountain, a runaway truck ramp saving our lives), those beautiful mountains and their attractions like Tweetsie became off limits due to the fear of a similar mishap occurring again. Fortunately for me, the historic town of Hillsborough was only a few safe miles away.

The Western theme park there was known then as “Daniel Boone Country”. Similar to Tweetsie, it offered a train, costumed cowboys and indians, rides and shows, all set in a Western pioneer village. I first visited there when I was approximately five years old and while I do remember visiting the park on more than one occasion, the details have been lost to time. However, I do remember riding the train and the smell of the black smoke. When Indians attacked along a wooded portion of the track, I became frightened, believing that the attack was real! One of the actors made up as an Indian sat down in the seat in front of my dad and I  and calmed my fears, reassuring me that it was all make believe for fun.

By all accounts, it was a magical place. By the time I had graduated high school, the park had sold their train (to Carowinds) and was on its way to becoming defunct. Last summer my wife and I invited my father to join us on our vacation to visit the USS North Carolina in Wilmington. On the way home, my father spotted the exit sign for Hillsborough and asked if I remembered going there as a kid. Of course I did, so we agreed to go back there together. We made that trip a couple of weeks ago.

Very few traces remain of the old park. There are two cabooses being used as rental space for antique shops, and an old passenger car complete with graffiti that sits on a small slice of track under a lean-to. A lot of the old Western style store fronts remain, their weathered paint and abandoned appearance creating the atmosphere of a ghost town. The old Blacksmith shop still stands, complete with hand painted lettering, even though it now serves as a junk shed. Beside the “Antique Mall”, is a storage area where one can find wagons and antique farm equipment rotting in the open. A few feet up the hill stands a dilapidated barn that contains the Daniel Boone stage coach.

Another barn on the premises houses more wagons, antique trucks complete with bullet holes and hand painted signs (by Apache Joe?).  At least Daniel, a twenty foot tall “muffler man” type figure still stands.  A similar Indian figure that once adorned the roof of the steakhouse across the street has vanished. If one cares to look, one can still find traces of the park in the form of waterwheels (pan for gold attractions?), a miniature covered bridge and a weather vane (part of the old train depot?), but these sights are disappearing daily. An old kiddies’ ride that I saw on a earlier visit, rotting away amongst some weeds, had been cleared away when I returned with my camera (see link for pics).  I just got the feeling that whoever owns the park may now be clearing out some of the old left over’s because the gates to the barns were open and the area where that kiddie ride had been was open after previously being cordoned off.

I did make a brief attempt to find old track, but that area is now a trailer park, and I did not want to arouse the suspicion of any tenants by poking around in their backyards. I would urge anyone interested in seeing what is left of the park to make the trip post haste. In these economic times, who knows what the current owner may have in mind for the property. Being an amateur singer/songwriter, my visit inspired me to write a new song about the old park. As soon as it is finished, I will post a link. Thank you all for your interest.
Sincerely,
-Camo

VIEW PHOTOS OF THE DANIEL BOONE RAILROAD & THEME PARK!

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