North Carolina Transportation Museum

North Carolina Transportation Museum

This is a truly moving story: the story of the  North Carolina Transportation Museum. Located on the 57 acre site of Southern Railway's steam locomotive repair facility in Spencer, the museum is a tribute to the people and machines that moved North Carolina.


Over 55 pieces of rolling stock (trains, cars, engines, etc.) are on display, including 19 locomotives, plus two airplanes, a Conestoga wagon, a 1935 Highway Patrol car, vintage automobiles and more than 5,000 small artifacts.

A tour of the North Carolina Transportation Museum begins at Barber Junction, a restored passenger station built in 1898 in the nearby town of Barber, and moved to the site in 1980. From here visitors can board a train ride and ride in style through the historic Spencer complex.

At the Master Mechanic's Office, which once housed the head of operations for Spencer Shops, there's an exhibit on Wagons, Wheels, and Wings as well as a gift shop. On display here are the Conestoga wagon, a 1922 fire engine, an amphibious airplane and memorabilia of North Carolina's Piedmont Airlines (later a part of US Airways).

Here you will see cars on display range from a Model-T to a stock car. Train rides begin at Barber Junction, a restored train station. All aboard for a guided tour of the Museum grounds. A booming hub for steam locomotives, Spencer Spencer was forced Trains at North Carolina Transportation Museum with Many locomotives and passenger cars are on display. to evolve with the advent of diesel trains. (Courtesy North Carolina Transportation History Corporation). Many locomotives and passenger cars are on display. Sleek diesel locomotives spelled the end for steam locomotives. Take a spin on one of the largest roundhouses ever constructed.

The Bumper to Bumper exhibit is in the Flue Shop, where boiler flues for steam locomotives were once repaired. The exhibit traces  the evolution of the automobile from tiny buggies to 1940's roadsters and today's modern fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles.

The 37-bay Robert Julian Roundhouse, one of the largest ever constructed, was built in 1924 and is one of the few roundhouses remaining in the country. It's home to more than 25 restored locomotives and rail cars. Here visitors learn about the lives of the men who made Spencer Shops run, and the history of railroads in North Carolina. Videos, interactive exhibits, observation areas for rail car restoration and a huge scale model of Spencer Shops show what went on at Spencer and the magnitude of the operation.

Sleek diesel locomotives spelled the end for steam locomotives at North Carolina Transportation Museum The story of Spencer begins more than one hundred years ago with the creation of Southern Railways by financier J.P. Morgan in 1894. The new complex, located halfway between Atlanta and Washington D.C., was named for Southern's first president, Samuel Spencer. Spencer Shops' mission was to repair the locomotives that hauled Southern's passenger and freight trains. From 1896 to the late 70s, between 2,500 to 3,000 people worked in the shops.

The end of Southern Railway's Spencer Shops came when Southern, one of the first U.S. rail companies, started using diesel-electric locomotives, and by 1953 the company retired it's last steam engine.

Hours at the Transportation Museum are:

April 1- October 31:   
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday 1 - 5 p.m.
November 1 - March 31:    
Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday 1 - 4 p.m.
Closed Mondays, New Year's Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas holidays.
Admission is free. There is a fee for train rides, group rates are available. Groups are asked to make advance reservations.

For more information, contact:    

North Carolina Transportation Museum
P.O. Box 165
Spencer, North Carolina 28159
Phone: 704.636.2889, Email:

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