Record breaking 797 Scouts and troop leaders at rail camp

Published 10:13 am Friday, November 11, 2016

SPENCER — This weekend, the N.C. Transportation Museum will host nearly 800 Boy Scouts and troop leaders during the 20th Annual Boy Scout Rail Camp.  In that 20 years, the event has grown from a countywide camporee to the largest event of its type in the nation.

This year’s roster draws Scouts from four states and across North Carolina, from the coastal city of Wilmington to the mountain town of Waynesville.

The volume of Scouts makes this the largest Rail Camp the museum has ever hosted, despite adding a second session of Rail Camp, held this past spring. Lucas Safrit, an Eagle Scout and recipient of the 2015 Christopher C. Crittenden Internship from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ Office of Archives and History, will again head up this year’s event. Safrit attended the camp as a Scout in 2006 and 2007 and has been instrumental in growing the program to its current record-setting attendance.

This weekend, Scouts will set up camp at the N.C. Transportation Museum this evening. Saturday morning, troops will tour the museum before taking a train ride around the museum’s 60-acre property. After a scavenger hunt, Scouts will dedicate the afternoon to earning their Railroading Merit Badge.

They will learn how a diesel-electric locomotive develops power, how to identify different types of railcars, the importance of railroad signals, and railroad safety.

Flag raising and lowering ceremonies and campfire programs are also part of the fun.

One of the newest activities during Boy Scout Rail Camp are time trials using the museum’s hand car, which Safrit helped refurbish. Each troop chooses three Scouts and one leader to pump the hand car to move down a designated section of track.  The troop completing the trek in the fastest time will receive a golden rail spike.

“When we put this hand car back on the tracks, this was one of the driving factors in making that happen, to use it for events,” said Safrit. “And this event is perfect.” He added that the hand car has also been a great piece for day-to-day visitors and shows up in numerous photos of visitors on site.

Red Springs and Northern Railroad will also provide motor car rides aboard speeders, track maintenance vehicles that provide the rider a very close-up view of the rails. RS&NR regularly provides these speeders for other museum events as well.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts wishing to be a part of future events may be added to the event contact list by emailing

The N.C. Transportation Museum, located in historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway repair facility is just five minutes off I-85 at Exit 79 in Spencer. The museum is part of the Division of Historic Sites and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.