Railroad historian at Transportation Museum Saturday
N.C. Transportation Museum
SPENCER — North Carolina historian Matthew Bumgarner will bring a tale of two Civil War-era railroads to the N.C. Transportation Museum at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Bob Julian Roundhouse.
The program is a timely piece of history, presented during the sesquicentennial observations of the U.S. Civil War.
Bumgarner will focus on the role of North Carolina’s western-most railroads during the Civil War and the after effects during the nation’s Reconstruction.
The Atlantic Tennessee & Ohio, which ran from Charlotte to Statesville, was conceived before the war, but not actually built until the war was well under way. No sooner was the line completed than it was ripped up in order to shore up the ever-tattered southern rail network.
The Western North Carolina Railroad, which stretched from Salisbury to the foot of the mountains at Morganton, likewise served the western part of the state. Most of its management played major roles in key battles of the war including Manassas, Gettysburg and Appomattox.
The railroad also was victimized in a raid of Union “bushwhackers” in an attempt to free prisoners from the Salisbury prison camp and its final days of the war came to an exciting climax during Stoneman’s “Great Locomotive Chase.”
Still, the end of the war was not the end of either railroad’s story, as Reconstruction personalities and politics set both railroads back for several decades.
The 1 p.m. program will be followed by a book signing.
Bumgarner, who lives in Hickory, is the author of several railroad and Civil War-themed books, including “The Legacy of the Carolina & North-Western Railway,” “Kirk’s Raiders: The 2nd & 3rd NC Mounted Infantries” and “My Face to the Enemy: Insights to the 6th NC State Troops.”