Thursday, September 6, 2012
Aha! Another summer goal acheived and conquered! We made it to the North Carolina Transportation Museum! For years I have been hearing about this museum, but we haven't made it there before now. An entire train hub from the steam engine era, turned into a museum.
The trip is a bit long for us (2+ hours), as the museum is located in Spencer, down in Rowan County. Not really near any of the big NC cities, so I was curious. As it turns out, back in the day of the steam engine, steam engines had to be serviced every 500 miles. Washington DC and Atlanta GA were large railway hubs at the time, and an enterprising young Congressman realized that a steam engine maintenance yard needed to be constructed and his district in Rowan County was exactly halfway between DC and Atlanta. Smart guy. So the town of Spencer was created and a railroad mecca buit there... complete with the largest still-operational roundhouse in the country!
Despite the weather (rain rain rain) we had a great time at the museum, checking out historic trains, cars, walking through the roundhouse and other restored buildings on site. All the boys loved it, loved peeking in windows of Charles Schwab's train car, putting mail into boxes in the US Postal Service car from the early 1900s, and pretending to need a medic in the Army Mobile Hospital car. We even got to see some train restoration projects. I never realized how intricate train cars were... and how different train engines through the years have been built and ran. So neat.
The true highlight of the day, though, was the train ride that we took at the end of the day. I have got to commend the NC Transportation Museum - they have really removed all the stops and created a fully accessible place. There is a railcar fit up with a wheelchair lift, just like Will's school bus! And once he was on the train, the railcar interior has several wheelchair tie-down spots with nearby seating for all families to ride in style. I can't explain how awesome that was. Will was in his glory.
So we rode the train, enjoyed the view, got our tickets taken by the conductor, and learned so much. Awesome. Can't wait to go back later this month for our Day with Thomas!!