If you’ve ever come away from the N.C. Transportation Museum wishing you could remember all that you’ve just seen, Alan Coleman has done you a favor.
And if you’re interested in railroad history but have never been to the museum, you, too, might want to seek out Coleman’s new book from Arcadia Publishing, called simply “North Carolina Transportation Museum.”
The museum, owned and operated by the state, is located on the grounds and in the surviving buildings of Spencer Shops, a locomotive repair complex on the Southern Railway’s main line between Atlanta and Washington, D.C., from 1896 until it was shuttered in the 1970s. Spencer, the town that grew up around the shops, is just off Interstate 85 next to Salisbury, about two hours west of Raleigh.
Among the surviving buildings are the roundhouse, still very much in use, and the 1905 Back Shop, which stretches the length of two football fields. The soaring space of brick, glass and steel trusses where locomotives were once overhauled now houses some of the museum’s collection of rail cars, airplanes, wagons and other vehicles.
The museum strives to show and tell the whole story of transportation in North Carolina. The collection includes a DC-3 used by Piedmont Airlines from 1956 to 1963; a school bus built by the Thomas Car Works of High Point in 1940, and a 1935 Ford State Highway Patrol car, a convertible.
But like the museum, Coleman’s book leans heavily toward railroads. It includes photos of 75 locomotives, passenger cars, box cars, cabooses and other rolling stock from the museum’s collection. There’s also a section devoted to the buildings, signals and other equipment on the grounds, including the small depot that was moved about 15 miles east from Barber Junction and now serves as the ticket office.
Arcadia Publishing is known for producing books on history full of old black and white photos. The company’s Images of America series includes books about Raleigh, Garner, Cary, Apex, Knightdale, Wake Forest and Morrisville, among thousands of others. Coleman’s book is also a essentially a picture book, albeit with color photos, most taken by the author.
“North Carolina Transportation Museum”
By Alan Coleman
Arcadia Publishing, 96 pages
The book is available at the museum and stores where local books are sold, or online at www.arcadiapublishing.com/