Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2011

SPENCER — A new pictorial history features more than 200 vintage images of Southern Railway’s Spencer Shops, from its beginning to the final days in the 1970s.
Once Southern Railway’s largest repair facility between Washington and Atlanta, Spencer Shops has been transformed today into the N.C. Transportation History Museum.
The book will be available Aug. 8 at local bookstores, independent retailers, online retailers and through its publisher, Arcadia Publishing. Retail price is $21.99.
Larry K. Neal Jr., chief of museum operations and education at Spencer Shops, authored the publication, which also includes a foreword by Jim Wrinn, editor of “Trains” magazine.
According to a press release from Arcadia, “Southern Railway’s Historic Spencer Shops” covers through images the creation of Spencer Shops and the town of Spencer, steam and diesel locomotive repair and operation, the people of Spencer Shops and the operation’s final years.
“This book tells the story of how Spencer Shops came to be, its role in transportation and its continued use today as a N.C. historic site,” Arcadia says in the press release.
“The trains that the shop prepared were hauling everyday freight — Appalachian lumber, Piedmont textiles and perishables — or were famous passenger trains like the Crescent, the Peach Queen and many more. Others were more notable, such as the locomotive in the folk ballad ‘The Wreck of the Old 97’ or President Roosevelt’s funeral train in 1945.”
Spencer Shops operated for roughly 80 years, from the late 1800s to its closure in 1979. For much of that period, it was Rowan County’s largest employer.
The shop complex and its accompanying yards, transfer sheds and stockyards comprised a major economic engine for the region.
Photographs for this book come from numerous sources, including the N.C. Division of Archives and History, Rowan Museum Inc., J. Marvin Black, Marvin Rogers, Vernon Lane, Patsy McBride, Bill Rabon and June Pryor.
Photographers who shot many of the images include David P. Driscoll, C.K. Marsh and David Patton.
“Southern Railway’s Historic Spencer Shops” is part of Arcadia’s “Images of America” series, which since its launch in 1993 has aimed at preserving and sharing histories of hundreds of communities in the country.
The series has expanded through the years to include regional historical topics, examining things such as transportation, industry, architecture and ethnic groups.
“Southern Railway’s Historic Spencer Shops,” $21.99, Arcadia Publishing. Available Aug. 8 at local retailers, online bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing at or 888-313-2665.