Published 12:00 am Monday, June 3, 2013

“Go! Go!” were the declarations from 3-year-old Jacob Noll to his father as the two made their way around the model railroad exhibits at the N.C. Transportation Museum’s Saturday event, Museum in Motion Festival. Jeff Noll rushed to the beginning of the model train as it rounded the track of the miniature town on display.
The Nolls, of Greenville, S.C., are members of the museum and were in attendance at the festival, formerly called Rail Days. The new name was an opportunity to encompass cars and airplanes as well as trains.
Jeff couldn’t move quick enough for Jacob, wrapped in his father’s arms as the toddler urged his father forward.
Father and son ride the trains when they attend events at the museum, and Jeff particularly likes the history of all they see.
“I guess I’m like a big kid. I like the old cars and I love the trains,” Jeff said.
The event has in the past been held two days, but there was a lot packed into one day this year. Attendees could ride the passenger trains, caboose trains and, as always, the turntables. There were also discussions of how steam works, the Wright Brothers’ first flight and a session with retired Piedmont Airlines Capt. Bill Wilkinson.
“We were trying to incorporate all forms of transportation. The event still has a lot of the Rail Days flavor,” said Interim Executive Director Larry Neal.
Neal said the festival was able to give people the experience of different forms of transportation. Neal said this is one of the larger events the museum hosts. Additions to the event were the antique tractor show and a car on display from retired NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine.
Wilkinson, who has been a volunteer with the museum for 14 years, was with the airline industry for 34 years.
“It’s like a place to dream, with all these trains and modes of travel,” Wilkinson said.
He spoke about the technical aspect of the DC-3 aircraft and how it contributed to Piedmont Airlines’ success.
Gavin Hallenbeck, 12, of Fuquay Varina, is the youngest member of the Atlantic Coast S Gaugers, Carolinas Division, whose members operate and collect S gauge trains. Gavin and other members of the club were on hand at the event to tell people about their model trains. He joined when he was 4 years old.
“I enjoy it. I like being a part of running the trains,” Gavin said of the event.
Butch Henion said members of the Atlantic Coast S Gaugers attend events at the museum a few times a year, including Day Out With Thomas.
“When that kid pushes that button and grins from ear to ear — that’s what I like about being here,” Henion said.
Other members who attended Saturday’s event included Margot Henion and Marvin Thiel.
Butch Henion said the event is fun and they’ve been attending since 2002. The trains the group had on display took an hour to set up, Henion said.
Dan Strong and his son, Lucas, 9, were at the event for some father-son time. The two traveled from Raleigh and were first-time attendees at the event. Dan said he heard about the event through a friend and decided to check it out.
Thomas York, his wife, Melissa, and their two children Derek, 7, and Jalynn, 2, were camping at Dan Nicholas Park and decided to see what activities they could find at the museum.
Thomas said the family didn’t know there was a special event going on, but just decided to stop.
“I love it. It’s a good little vacation and it doesn’t cost a whole lot,” Melissa said.
Andrew King and his sons Luke, 7, and Gabe, 3, are all train enthusiasts. The love of trains came from Andrew’s father, who was a railroad buff, King said.
The family drove from Huntersville after attending early morning basketball practice. King estimates they’ve been to the museum a dozen times. He’s a member and receives the email reminders of upcoming events.
“They like the hands-on experience and, for the little kids, you can’t beat riding trains,” King said.
Children today have so many other things that occupy their time, from video games to the computer, but seeing and riding the trains is a good experience, he said.
A large group from Shady Grove Baptist Church in Salisbury spent the afternoon exploring the museum. The church had 37 people in a group as part of a church outing, said Stephanie Willis.
Willis said the church tries to plan an activity every three months.
Prior to the day’s activities, the church stopped for barbecue across the street at Park Plaza where Shannon Sims was hosting a fundraiser in honor of her late father, Richard, and to raise money for a mission trip.
The upcoming summer events include a Thunderbird Cruise-In on June 8, an exploration of the museum’s antique automobile collection in July and the art of modeling trains in August. One of the most popular events, Day Out With Thomas, will be in September. Go to for more details on specific events.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: Facebook: