The last stop in North Carolina on my road trip was the North Carolina Transportation Museum, a state historic site and museum in Spencer, NC not far north of Charlotte. Quite literally, there’s something for just about anyone who is a fan of motorized transportation at this museum. The museum is housed in the remaining buildings of the Spencer Shops, which used to be Southern Railroad’s largest steam locomotive repair on the east coast.
The 37 bay roundhouse at the museum, built in 1924, is the largest roundhouse remaining in North America and it houses a variety of steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, and train cars. In addition to the locomotives and train cars, the roundhouse also contains displays that educate the visitor about the history of the Spencer Shops and the history of railroads in North Carolina. The roundhouse also features a replica of the Wright Flyer. Part of the roundhouse remains a working train shop, where you can see museum volunteers working on and restoring locomotives and train cars.
The Flue Shop contains antique automobiles and shows the evolution of the automobile. It contains cars and trucks from the 1910s to the 1960s, several of them quite beautifully restored. This building was originally used by workers for cleaning the flues inside steam locomotives. When diesel locomotives took over, the shop was used by electricians.
The Back Shop was used for major overhauls on steam locomotives. It is now home to a variety of motorized vehicles including cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, public safety vehicles, and a couple of airplanes.
The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a great museum. The have a wonderfully varied collection of trains, motor vehicles, and aircraft and it does a great job of presenting the history of the Spencer Shops and railroads in North Carolina. If you’re a train buff, you’ll definitely want to visit this museum and if you have any interest in motorized transportation you’ll be interested in what it has to offer.
Most of the inside photos in this post were taken with my Google Pixel 3 phone in “Night Sight” mode. Night Sight is designed for taking photos in dark conditions and I found it to be great for taking photos inside of museums. Some museums are dark inside and others discourage the use of flash photography for preservation reasons, so the Night Sight mode enabled me to take better photos in the museums without using a flash. If you’ve got a Google phone and haven’t tried out Night Sight yet, I highly recommend it for any low light environment.