Transportation Museum hosts Salute to the Troops: Military Through the Ages

Published 12:33 am Thursday, June 29, 2017

SPENCER — The North Carolina Transportation Museum is hosting a military-themed program this weekend as a salute to the troops, with living history encampments, military equipment and vehicles, weapons, a traveling World War I exhibit and a USO-themed music show.

The activities will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum’s own exhibits with military themes will be on display during this weekend’s “Salute the Troops: Military Through the Ages.”

The museum, located at historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway steam locomotive repair facility, is five minutes off Interstate 85 at Exit 79 in Spencer, which is about an hour from Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston-Salem.

Additional offerings include Salisbury National Cemetery and Confederate Prison site trolley tours, a USO-themed dinner and show titled “Letters From Home: America’s Bombshell Duo,” and fireworks.

Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for children 3-12. Admission is free to veterans and active military with a military ID. Members of the N.C. Transportation Museum are also admitted free. Train rides, trolley tours, and the USO show carry additional fees.

Visitors will be greeted by 100 troops set up with living history camps on the museum grounds where World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Civil War will be represented.

The living history portion will include a WWI medical air station, the 82nd Airborne Division from WWII, Vietnam-era pilots, Civil War militiamen, American soldiers and allies. Discussions will focus on how those soldiers lived and worked, and the weapons of war use throughout history will be displayed.

Vehicles will be highlighted on the museum’s activity field, including five Vietnam-era helicopters. The military machines scheduled to appear also include WWII-era Jeeps and trucks and a vintage military bicycle.

The newest “Ride of Pride” truck, featuring artwork that serves as a memorial to the attack on Pearl Harbor, will also appear. The truck is owned by Chief Express of Seagrove and features artwork that shows the military base before the infamous 1941 attack on the left side and present-day images of the base on the right side. The truck was built at the Daimler Trucks facility in Rowan County.

The “N.C. in WWI” traveling exhibit will also be available, which was created by the N.C. Museum of History. The exhibit of 10 information panels, propaganda posters, and related artifacts is supplemented by local items from the Rowan Museum of History and local collectors.

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into “the war to end all wars,” the exhibit pays tribute to victory acres, war bonds, and heroic efforts in battle, with a focus on the contributions of North Carolinians to the war.

WWI will be the focus of guest lecturer retired Lt. Col. Sion H. Harrington III. His presentation, “North Carolina and the Great War, 1917-1918,” will be in the Bob Julian Roundhouse at 1 p.m. each day.

Master bugler Jay Callaham will discuss the military connections to an instrument that called many to battle. Callaham will tell the true history of taps and discuss the history of the bugle as a military signal. In addition to his 25-year career in the military, Callaham has performed taps at numerous military funerals and at Arlington National Cemetery.

The museum’s U.S. Army hospital car, which served in the Korean conflict, will be on display in the Bob Julian Roundhouse. The Merci Train 40 & 8 boxcar, one of 49 such railroad cars given to each state in the U.S. and the District of Columbia by France after WWII, is also displayed. The lesser-known military connections of the #544 Seaboard Air Line locomotive and the Piedmont Airlines DC-3 will be told.

Upgrade options to the event include Salisbury National Cemetery and Confederate Prison Site trolley tours. When built in 1861, the Confederate Prison was designed to hold 2,500 prisoners, but by 1864, there were more than 10,000 prisoners incarcerated. Some 3,700 prisoners died between October 1864 and February 1865.

Trolley tours are $18 per person and are offered at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 1 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday.

“Letters From Home: America’s Bombshell Duo” re-creates a classic USO-style performance, with tap dancing, memorable songs, and a focus on patriotism on Saturday evening. Offered at 6:30 p.m. in the recently opened Back Shop, visitors will enjoy dinner and the show for $25 per person or $40 per couple.

Fireworks will conclude the Saturday night performance about 9:15 p.m. at the conclusion of “Letters From Home.” The general public can was the fireworks show from the museum parking area at no charge.

For more about this event and other programs at the N.C. Transportation Museum, visit