Transportation Museum festival gets new name, adds activities
SPENCER — The N.C. Transportation Museum will once again celebrate the golden age of railroading in June, but this year’s event will debut a new name and more activities.
Previously called Rail Days, the new Great Southeastern Rail Days Festival will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 2 and noon to 5 p.m. June 3.
The festival will feature an expanded offering of train rides, live music, magic, railroad artist Andy Fletcher, kids activities and a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the merger of Southern Railway and Norfolk & Western to form Norfolk-Southern Railways.
Photographers can shoot recreated railroad scenes during two after-hours photo shoots with special lighting.
With each ticket to the event, unlimited rides will be available aboard three passenger trains, including the Flagg 75 Steam Engine Caboose Train, featuring a coal fired steam engine pulling five colorful cabooses.
Themed passenger trains will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Southern and N&W merger.
The Southern themed train will feature the Southern FP7 No. 6133 and E8 No. 6900 engines with the Royal Arch, Pine Tree State and Doris private rail cars, among others.
The N&W themed train will feature the N&W GP9 No. 620 engine pulling 1950s-era passenger cars.
At the Roundhouse, visitors can also climb into the cab of two engines for a quick run up and down the tracks with the engineer’s view of the rails.
Visitors can also take a ride on motor cars, smaller machines that run along the rails for maintenance. The original 1925 Bob Julian Roundhouse turntable is also available for visitors to take a spin, for a minimal fee.
Between rides, a host of activities will be happening all around. A hobo camp will be set up with stories of riding the rails without paying the fare. Chaz the Magician will roam the site.
Children can also enjoy crafts and activities in the Bob Julian Roundhouse.
One of the most popular musical acts at the museum, Piedmont Natural Grass will bring the harmonies and warm sounds of bluegrass to the Bob Julian Roundhouse, performing both Saturday and Sunday.
Railroad artist Andy Fletcher will also appear, showing his rail art and designs for some important cars rolling down the tracks.
Fletcher is a railroad artist, speaker and advocate for freight rail in America. His drawings were the inspiration for Norfolk Southern’s 30th Anniversary Heritage Locomotives.
Rail fans both young and old will see S-gauge, N-scale and HO-scale model train layouts in the Roundhouse, displays of the railroading on the small side.
The event will also feature rail car lifting demonstrations, a diesel engine horn display, tie-handler displays and more for hard-core rail fans.
Rail fan photographers will have two after-hours photo sessions. An evening photo shoot and nighttime photo shoot events will be available with a $20 ticket that includes both sessions.
The evening photo shoot, 5 to 7:30 p.m. June 2, will include a recreation of the famous golden spike photo that announced the N&W/Southern merger, featuring a visiting locomotive, the GP9 #522. Photo run-bys and more will take place.
A nighttime photo shoot, 9 to 10:30 p.m. June 2, will feature vintage rail equipment positioned around the site with scenes lit.
General tickets to the Great Southeastern Rail Days Festival are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and active military and $15 for children.
Tickets include unlimited train rides and all activities. Members receive discounted rates.
For more information, go to www.nctrans.org. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the event or in advance online or by calling 704-636-2889 ext. 237 during regular business hours.