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North Carolina Transportation Museum Events

Experience The Norfolk & Western Class J No 611 In Steam

North Carolina Transportation Museum gears up for holiday season

Friday, April 30, 2021 through Monday, May 3, 2021

Enjoy the thrill of a true railroading classic for the first time in 2021. For four days of fired-up activities, youll have several options in which to experience this iconic locomotive. Book your tickets now because these events are sure to sell out!

History Of The Nc Transportation Museum

As we mentioned earlier, the Museum sits on a historic site. The complex was once the Southern Railways largest steam locomotive repair factory.

Heres a breakdown of a couple of buildings there and how theyre used today:

  • The Barber Junction Depot was formerly a railroad station from 1898. Today, it serves as the Museums Visitor Center.
  • The Back Shop hosts larger displays dedicated to railroading, automotive, aviation, and trucking equipment. Before, it was where steam locomotives were reassembled entirely.

Ready To Visit The Nc Transportation Museum

The NC Transportation Museum is such a fun place to visit that its easy to forget about its interesting background. This museum not only teaches important history through galleries and exhibits but sits on history itself.

Whether youre traveling with kids or alone, we think a visit here is one of the most unique things to do in North Carolina. If youve spent time here, wed love to know what you thought of the museum.

Please let us know in the comments or share your thoughts by email. If you havent visited yet, feel free to share your first experience

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Preserved North Carolina Transportation Museum Locomotives

Steam Locomotives

Atlantic Coast Line 4-6-0 #1031

Carolina Power & Light “Fireless” 0-4-0F #3

Duke Power 0-4-0T #111

Graham County Railroad 3-Truck Shay #1925

Seaboard Air Line 2-10-0 #544

Southern Railway 2-8-0 #542

W. R. Bonsal Company 0-6-0T #7

Diesel Locomotives

Amtrak F40PH #307

Atlantic Coast Line E3A #501

Beaufort & Morehead H12-44 #1860

Duke Power 25-Ton Switcher #5951

Norfolk & Western GP9 #620

Norfolk Southern AS416 #1616

North Carolina State Ports Authority 45-Ton Switcher #L-3

Southern Railway GP30 #2601

Southern Railway/Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific FP7 #6133

Southern Railway E8A #6900

U.S. Army 44-Ton Switcher #7497

U.S. Navy 44-Ton Switcher #65-00556

Electric Locomotives

Piedmont & Northern Boxcab #5103

In last few years NCTM’s stature has risen immensely with several notable events and activities taking place there.

First, during the July 4th holiday in 2012, in conjunction with Norfolk Southern the museum held a large celebration 20 heritage locomotives adorned in liveries of predecessor railroads which make up the current NS system.

Two years later in the late spring of 2014 NCTM held the “Streamliners At Spencer” event with several pieces of historic equipment celebrating the sleek designs common during the last great age of passenger rail travel.

The train trips are not long, traveling about a mile or so around the 57-acre site and lasting for about 25 minutes.

Were Gearing Up For A Huge Day Of Tractors & Trains And Fun


Join us to see modern tractors, antique farm equipment, farm life demonstrations, and much more! With kids activities, music, and hayrides this is an event the whole family can attend! We cant wait to see you in April!

The annual event is reserved for students, home school groups, and other pre-formed groups on Friday, April 1, receiving special admission rates. The general public is invited to enjoy the fun on Saturday, April 2, ending out the day with a parade of tractors at 3 p.m.

For Group Rates AND Tractor/Equipment registration: Contact June Hall at 704-636-2889 ext. 268 or

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Nc Transportation Museums Fire Truck Festival To Be Held June 24

The N.C. Transportation Museums fastest growing event gets even bigger in 2017, with the 3rd Annual Fire Truck Festival taking place June 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Last year saw the best turn-out for a single day event in the museums recent history, with some 3,500 attendees. This year, event organizers are adding more fire trucks, more emergency response vehicles and more activities to make the show an even bigger success.

The main attraction is, of course, the largest gathering of fire trucks for a public event in the state of North Carolina. Some 50 vehicles were a part of last years event and registrations continue to arrive for this years show. Not only are fire trucks from across the region displayed, but firemen from each department are always ready to answer questions, show off the equipment, pose for pictures with children and more.

The grand finale will feature a parade of fire trucks, departing from the sites main parking lot, heading south on S. Salisbury Avenue, returning to the museum grounds at the pedestrian crossing, and continuing to the Bob Julian Roundhouse for photos.

Special offerings for 2017 include the 200th anniversary celebration of Salisbury Fire Department. The department will publicly debut their newly restored 1941 American LaFrance fire truck, along with other 200th anniversary-themed offerings.

For more information, visit

N& w 611 Daylight Photo Charter

May 3 only

Tickets still available!

The N.C. Transportation Museum and the Virginia Museum of Transportation are offering yet another opportunity to experience the Norfolk & Western Class J #611 under steam! On Monday, May 3, 2021, while the museum is closed to the general public, we will be hosting a daytime photo charter featuring the 611. The iconic streamlined 4-8-4 will be posed for photos and will perform photo run-bys in multiple locations across the museum site, including new photo angles and areas not accessible to the general public.

This all-day event begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m., with a mid-day break for lunch on your own, turning of the locomotive, and repositioning. The break will take place during the high sun hours which are especially difficult for photographers, lasting approximately two hours. Attendees are welcome to stay on site during the break to take photographs and video of the locomotive, or are welcome to leave for lunch and return for the second part of the day.

This will be the first daytime photo charter with the N& W 611 at Spencer since 2016, so dont miss the opportunity to capture some unique images! Space is limited.

May 3

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Special Events At The Nc Transportation Museum

The NC Transportation Museum hosts special themed events and exhibits depending on the season. In honor of spooky season, the Museum has many Halloween-themed events.

and are also magical times at the NC Transportation Museum!

  • Easter Bunny Train: Typically held over four days around Easter, the Easter Bunny Train is a fun time for everyone, especially the kids.
  • Legends by Lantern Tours: Open on a select number of days, this lantern tour celebrates the many railroad-centric lore and legends.
  • Halloween Train: Wear your Halloween costumes for a train ride full of tricks and treats! Kids can have fun with a costume contest, a Halloween Scavenger Hunt, temporary tattoos, and a treat bag!
  • Polar Express: The Polar Express Train Ride is offered on select weekends in November and December. Get in the holiday spirit with this train ride, complete with hot chocolate, cookies, book readings, a Santa cameo, and more!

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Transfer Co Food Hall

Norfolk Southern Heritage Locomotives at the NC Transportation Museum
Get back to: Breweries | Skyline Views | Unique Dining

Transfer Co. Food Halls past as a warehouse that serviced buses inspires its main goal today: connect people and places, using food as a vehicle. Enjoy a beverage from the full-service bar while you browse your meal choices, ranging from burgers and burritos to oysters and charcuterie. Or stop by as early as 8 a.m. on most days to indulge in a latte and wood-fired bagel from Benchwarmers Bagels . Find a seat under strings of lights on the dog-friendly patio to take in brilliant views of the Raleigh skyline. Then finish the evening with a taste of Asheville in the Piedmont at Burial Beer Co.s taproom, filled with award-winning beers .

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Take A Spin On The Roundhouse Turntable

The museums 37-bay Bob Julian Roundhouse, built in 1924, is the largest remaining railroad roundhouse in North America. It features a turntable in the center of the building that was used to spin locomotives and rail equipment so they could be placed on the correct track and moved in and out of the roundhouse. You can watch the turntable in action and even take a spin on it for just $1. Turntable rides happen at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Ride The Polar Express

The museum hosts more than 30 events each year, and the largest is the Polar Express Train Ride, which runs for 23 nights in November and December. Inspired by the well-loved holiday movie, it draws visitors from all over North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Weve been lucky enough to partner with the Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau to offer hotel packages during this event to make it an even more affordable family getaway, Brown says.

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Pajama-clad families board the Polar Express and embark on a trip to the North Pole, with hot chocolate and cookies served on board the train. The experience is set to the music of The Polar Express movie soundtrack, and passengers sing, dance and listen to a reading of the companion story. Santa makes an appearance at the North Pole and passengers receive a souvenir silver bell on the ride back to the museum.

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Friday March 25 2022special Event: Wind & Wings Day

Even if you have joined NCHE at the North Carolina Transportation Museum previously, this field trip will offer exhibits and activities not experienced before! Wind & Wings Day is only available to groups for ONE DAY. Our visit will permit full access to the Bob Julian Roundhouse, the largest remaining roundhouse in America and home to restored locomotives and passenger rail cars. The Flue Shop houses the museums Bumper to Bumper automotive exhibit. The massive Back Shop, where steam locomotives were once overhauled, is now home to rail cars of the past, antique automobiles, fire trucks, and tractors. A working, full-size turntable, once used to re-locate engines to different bays of the Roundhouse, is in the midst of it all!

But wait! Theres more! In addition to all the train. auto and other transportation highlights, Wind & Wings Day is a day designed to explore flight as well. Wind & Wings programs include:trying your hand at radio-controlled flyers and flight simulators,experiencing a wind tunnel,getting to talk to and ask questions of Darrell Collins, an expert on the Wright Brothersmake and take kitesmake and take foam plate glidersgetting up close and personal with the restoration of a DC-3 airplane

North Carolina Transportation Museum

North Carolina Transportation Museum

The N.C. Transportation Museum is a historic site, once home to Southern Railways largest steam locomotive repair facility in the southeast, and a museum featuring all types of transportation history railroading, automotive, aviation, and more.

Historic structures include Barber Junction Depot, an authentic train station built in 1898 that serves as the museums Visitor Center. The Bob Julian Roundhouse is the largest remaining roundhouse in North America, and is home to locomotives, passenger rail cars, and a full-size replica Wright Flyer. The massive Back Shop, where steam locomotives were once completely overhauled, now houses rail cars of the past, antique automobiles, fire trucks, and the restoration of the Piedmont Airlines Potomac Pacemaker DC-3. The Flue Shop houses the museums Bumper to Bumper automotive exhibit.

Plan your visit today for a trip into the past at the museum that moves you!

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Polar Express 2021 North Carolina Transportation Museum Details:

The 2021 Polar Express runs November 12-13, 19-21, and 26-28 and December 3-5, 9-12, and14-23. Train rides on Fridays are 4:45 pm, 6:15 pm, and 7:45 pm. Train rides on Saturdays are at 4 pm, 5:30 pm, 7 pm, and 8:30 pm. And rides on Sundays are at 4 pm, 5:30 pm, and 7 pm. Prices begin at $32 for children and $38 for adults. Check the website for available dates and times. Trains sell out fast. If you want to go, dont wait to get your tickets.

Face masks are required onboard the trains and rides are about 70 minutes long. Lodging packages are available as well.

Note: If you want to head to the museum and dont plan to ride on the Polar Express, know that the museum offers an admission package that includes a 25 minutes train ride on-site that is narrated tour of the 60 acres museum site. Admission with train ride: Adults $12, Children $8, Seniors and military $10.

Has your family ever taken a ride on the Polar Express?

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Celebrate A Special Occasion

Did you know the North Carolina Transportation Museum has a Birthday Caboose? You can reserve the authentic, operating train caboose to celebrate the birthday of the train-lover in your life in a memorable way.

The museum also hosts festive holiday and special events such as the Easter Bunny Express, Fire Truck Festival, Tractors and Trains Festival and the highly anticipated Day Out With Thomas. One of the museums biggest events, Day Out With Thomas happens in September and October and allows fans of Thomas the Tank Engine to ride on Thomas the No. 1 blue engine and meet Sir Topham Hatt, participate in crafts, storytelling, train play tables and more.

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Where Is The Nc Transportation Museum

Address: 1 Samuel Spencer Dr, Spencer, NC 28159

The NC Transportation Museum is located in the town of Spencer in Rowan County, Central North Carolina. Its closest to Salisbury and Charlotte and perfect for day trips, even from Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

If youre traveling on I-85, its in a good spot right off Exit 79. From Statesville, youll use I-77 before getting off at Exit 152 and following US-70 for most of the way.

Read More: The NC Tripping North Carolina Travel Map

The Nc Transportation Museum In Spencer

North Carolina Transportation Museum

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The NC Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina, is a hub for all things planes, trains, and automobiles! Once the Southern Railways largest locomotive repair facility site, the North Carolina State Historic Site features exhibits on aviation, railroading, and cars.

You can also ride trains throughout the year at the museum, but also during one of the special events that happens here. Our guide shares more details about all of this and everything else you need to know about the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer.

To keep you as prepared as possible, weve organized the guide into the following sections:

  • Where is the NC Transportation Museum?
  • History of the NC Transportation Museum
  • How to Visit Today
  • 3 Reasons to Visit
  • Nearby Places to Visit

Scroll ahead to the section youre looking for or keeping reading about where to find the museum and its interesting history.

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N& w 611 Night Photo Shoot

May 1 only


Shoot some incredible photographs and video of the Norfolk & Western 611 under the lights for an evening and night photo session at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. If you enjoy the N& W 611 during the day, youll love it at night!

This photo session begins at 7 p.m. and runs until 11 p.m. The N& W 611 steam locomotive will be positioned in various locations for night-time photos and videos with night lighting provided. Because of the nature of night photography and videography, we encourage participants to be familiar with time exposures and special special lighting settings on their photo/video equipment.

Following COVID-19 protocols, attendees and crew will observe social distancing requirements and cloth face masks will be strictly enforced. Hand sanitizer is available on site. Attendance is strictly limited to ticketed participants. **RAIN OR SHINE. NO REFUNDS OR EXCHANGES**

May 1

How To Visit Today

If you want to visit the NC Transportation Museum, its hours are as follows:

  • Tuesdays to Saturdays: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Sundays: 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm
  • Closed on Mondays

The Museum also charges a reasonable admission fee. There are two options for tickets: a ticket for just the exhibits or a ticket combining the exhibits with the onsite train ride.

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Spend The Day At The North Carolina Transportation Museum

The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a destination in and of itself. The buildings the museum occupies have a transportation history of their own, including an 1898 train depot, a 37 bay roundhouse built in 1924, and a Back Shop built-in 1905 for overhauling steam locomotives. Those buildings are packed full of historically significant automobiles, aviation exhibits, steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, and so much more. While we loved looking at the old cars, we all found the 1924 roundhouse and the 40 restored locomotives it houses to be quite impressive and fun. Rides are available on the turntable as well, though we did not purchase one of those.

Fun For The Whole Family


The Historic Spencer Shops Train Show features vendors with railroad memorabilia of all types: model train dealers, model train layouts, collectors, and more. The show takes place in the 1905 Back Shop, a historic railroad location perfect for a railroading event!

Celebrate railroading including photo opportunities, train rides around our 60-acre historic site, and more fun for all ages.

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