By Shavonne Potts
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.