The North Carolina Transportation Museum – a Little Something For Almost Any Fan of Motorized Vehicles

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.

Forsyth, GA Road Trip Monitoring Report

Forsyth – I spent the last week in Forsyth for the third of three weeks of training. As I always do, I had radios with me; this time it was the mobile station and the Uniden BCD436HP handheld scanner. After two weeks spent in Forsyth earlier in the year I had a pretty good idea of what to listen for and where to look for it at so the scanning and monitoring was easier this time around. There were plenty of Fire/EMS related communications to listen to in the surrounding area and there also turned out to be a surprise in that area. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate throughout the week I heard more MilCom from Forsyth on this trip. As with the previous two trips to Forsyth, monitoring the Macon-Bibb TRS and the Central Georgia Interoperable Regional Radio System was pretty much a bust. I never did get but a few hits on the Macon-Bibb TRS and never got a control channel lock on the Central Georgia Interoperable Regional Radio System. Finally, on Thursday afternoon I turned on the mobile HF gear and was able to make a few contacts with it.

As busy as I-75 is between Atlanta and Macon, the area is a target rich environment for those looking to listen to Public Safety communications. Fire/EMS agencies from Monroe, Butts, Crawford, Fayette, and Upson counties could be heard from where I was staying in Forsyth. I probably could have picked up a few more, but I only had the counties immediately surrounding Monroe County and Forsyth programmed into the radios; hearing Fayette county was completely by accident. Earlier in the week, I posted about the surprise of being able to watch and listen to GSAR Central Task Force training at High Falls State Park. I also picked up agencies in Emanuel, Houston, and Laurens counties on the way home from Forsyth to Savannah. If I ever find myself staying in Forsyth again, I think I’ll expand the programming out to pick up a few counties more toward Atlanta and see how that works.

On the way home to Savannah, I took a brief side trip to Warner Robins via I-475 around Macon. This side trip along with almost nightly trips down I-75 to the Macon area for supper provided me with the opportunity to listen to the Macon-Bibb TRS and the Central Georgia Interoperable Regional Radio System. On most every occasion I heard little to nothing on the Macon-Bibb TRS and on very few occasions did I get a control channel lock on the Central Georgia Interoperable Regional Radio System. As I result I don’t have anything to report on those two systems. Coming out of Macon on I-475 I did get good signals on the Houston-Peach TRS and was able to listen to it for a good amount of time while heading into Warner Robins from the west and heading eastbound toward I-16.

The Forsyth area is also a target rich environment for those interested in listening to aviation communications. With Atlanta and its tremendously busy airspace not far up I-75, there is a lot of civilian aviation traffic in the area. There is a lot to be heard from Atlanta Approach/Departure, Macon, and Atlanta ARTCC. Forsyth is also well located for hearing some of the higher altitude aircraft talking to northern sectors of Jacksonville ARTCC. If you want to listen to aviation communications and public safety communications in the Forsyth area, I strongly recommend using separate radios for it because the aviation traffic alone will tie up a single scanner.

As I mentioned above, I heard more MilCom activity on this trip than I did the previous two. The signals weren’t great, but I could still hear some 55th FS F-16s from Shaw AFB working in Bulldog MOA one afternoon. On another I heard one of the C-130s from the 165th AW at Savannah transiting through the area. On Thursday afternoon, I caught a P-3 talking to its Base in Jacksonville; I never heard it on ATC so I’m not sure where it was in relation to Forsyth. With Robins AFB just down I-75, on most afternoons I could hear aircraft arriving and departing from there.

Frequency/Talkgroup ID List

Fire/EMS
159.120 (PL 146.2) – Georgia Forestry District 4 Repeater
159.225 (PL 123.0) – Georgia Forestry District 5 Repeater

154.220 (PL 88.5) – Monroe County Emergency Services Dispatch
159.465 (PL 162.2) – Forsyth FD Dispatch (Monroe County)
45.240 (PL 167.9) – listed as Monre County EMA, but comms from Public Works

154.570 (PL 67.0) – (MURS) GSAR Central training op at High Falls State Park

154.355 (PL 141.3) – Butts County FD Dispatch

154.175 (PL 88.5) – Crawford County FD Dispatch

155.880 (PL 173.8) – Swainsboro FD Dispatch (Emanuel County)

155.385 (PL 94.8) – Fayette County FD Dispatch

463.900 (PL 131.8) – Lamar County FD/EMS Dispatch

154.070 (PL 186.2) – Laurens County FD Dispatch
154.385 (PL 186.2) – Dublin FD Dispatch (Laurens County)

160.665 (PL 156.7) – Upson County FD Dispatch
154.415 (PL 192.8) – Thomaston FD Dispatch (Upson County)

Houston-Peach P25 TRS
TG 16 – Houston County FD Dispatch
TG 18 – Houston County FD FG2

TG 61 – Warner Robins FD Dispatch
TG 65 – Warner Robins FD Talk

TG 121 – Perry FD Dispatch

MilAir
225.925 – Robins AFB ALC Ops
293.525 – 116th/461st ACW “PEACHTREE Ops”
349.850 – Robins AFB PMSV

343.750 – Bulldog MOA

260.900 – NORAD Discrete

311.200 – 55th FS “SHOOTER Ops”

371.350 – CPRW-11 Base

Robins AFB TRS
TG 2128 – unknown

TG 4912 – Robins AFB Ops

TG 4944 – Robins AFB Crash/Fire

TG 11248 – unknown

TG 13616 – ALC?
TG 13648 – ALC?
TG 13712 – ALC?

TG 16048 – HMLA-773?

TG 38640 – unknown (encrypted)

TG 40048 – 116th/461st ACW
TG 40304 – 116th/461st ACW
TG 40794 – 116th/461st ACW

Aviation
133.225 – Robins AFB Tower
119.600 – Atlanta TRACON
124.200 – Atlanta TRACON

119.375 – ZTL Macon High
120.425 – ZTL Georgia High
120.450 – ZTL Tiroe Low
121.350 – ZTL Logen Low
123.950 – ZTL Sinca Low
124.325 – ZTL Clark Hill Ultra High
124.375 – ZTL Lanier High
124.450 – ZTL East Departure Low
125.575 – ZTL LaGrange High
125.825 – ZTL Hampton Ultra High
126.425 – ZTL Dublin High
128.100 – ZTL Augusta Low
133.100 – ZTL Atlanta North Departure
134.500 – ZTL Atlanta South Departure
135.000 – ZTL Atlanta Workload

127.925 – ZJX Aiken High
132.925 – ZJX Allendale/Savannah Low
133.300 – ZJX Moultrie Ultra High
135.975 – ZJX Alma High

Railroad
160.650 – Ch. 36 – Norfolk Southern

On Thursday afternoon, I decided to play radio on the amateur radio side of things and turned on the mobile HF station. I started out on 20 Meters and heard a few nets and some ragchew but nothing really spectacular. Next I tried 15 Meters and heard practically nothing. On a whim I tuned through 10 Meters and hit the jackpot; in just a few minutes of operating I worked one of the ARRL Centennial stations, W1AW/6 from California and had short QSOs with Doug, WH6WI in Hilo, Hawaii and Steve W7CI in Arizona. The 10 Meter contact to Hawaii was the cherry on top of the sundae during a week of mobile/portable radio fun. It all goes to prove you don’t need the biggest station or the tallest antenna to have a bit of fun!

Douglas Road Trip Scanning Report; 22 March 2014

Savannah – After breakfast yesterday morning, I visited General Coffee State Park just east of Douglas on GA 32 before heading home to Savannah.  I took GA 32 to Alma where I stopped for lunch then continued on GA 32 to GA 203 to US 84 before hopping on I-95 and back to Savannah.  Lunch in Alma was at Carter’s Burgers on US 1; their burgers are excellent diner style burgers but my only question is why pickles cost extra!?  Just as Friday was my first time through Bacon and Coffee counties, yesterday was my first time driving GA 203 up through Bacon, Appling, and Wayne counties.  I had the scanners going of course but after leaving the park, I thought that a Saturday drive through the countryside would be perfectly accompanied by some music from the Allman Brothers Band Band so I listened to “Evening With The Allman Brothers Band” 1st and 2nd Sets along the way.

Most of what I heard on Saturday’s drive was very similar to Friday’s with the addition of railroad listening (which I probably should have turned on for Friday as well).  In retrospect I probably should have done some railroad frequency searching on Friday as well.  While at the park, I heard a lot of train activity on the tracks that paralleled GA 32 so that prompted me to turn on railroad frequencies in the HP-1 when I left.  Throughout the drive back to Savannah I head a good bit of activity on channels 32 and 56.  Driving through Coffee County on GA 32 I was able to hear the ground side of 127.575 Jax Center “Waycross Low”  since the transmitter is located at the airport in Alma.  It was nice to hear ARMY 03748, one of the MH-47Gs from 3-160 SOAR at Hunter AAF flying through the area and talking to Jax Center on the frequency (I also heard ARMY 03771, another 3-160 SOAR MH-47G in the area on Friday).  It’s also worth mentioning that I began picking up the P25 UHF trunked repeater system at Fort Stewart on US 84 at the south limits of Jesup; so for those with digital scanners in Wayne County, you’ve got the potential to listen to that system (and perhaps an excuse to get a digital scanner!).

Here’s the cumulative list of frequencies heard over the two day trip:

153.995 (DCS 031) – Bacon County EMS Dispatch
154.220 (PL 114.8) – Coffee County Fire Dispatch
154.310 (PL 114.8) – Coffee County EMS Dispatch
154.445 (PL 118.8) – Ware County Fire Dispatch
155.115 (PL 127.3) – Baxley Fire Dispatch
151.370 (PL 141.3) – Georgia Forestry District 8 Admin
159.120 (PL 107.2) – Georgia Forestry District 8 Rptr
159.225 (PL 100.0) – Georgia Forestry District 10 Rptr
159.390 (PL 156.7) – Georgia Forestry Mobile-to-Mobile
160.110 (DCS 026) – Air Evac 90 (Waycross)
164.575 (PL 206.5) – Okeefenokee NWR

160.590 – Railroad Ch. 32 – CSX
160.950 – Railroad Ch. 56 – Norfolk Southern

122.800 – Douglas Airport
124.075 – Jax Center Summerville High
126.125 – Jax Center Statesboro High
285.650 – Jax Center Statesboro High
126.750 – Jax Center Brunswick Low
127.575 – Jax Center Waycross Low
127.875 – Jax Center Aiken High
132.425 – Jax Center Hunter Ultra High
132.925 – Jax Center Millen/Savannah Low
133.625 – Jax Center Georgetown High
135.975 – Jax Center Alma High
128.100 – Atlanta Center Augusta Low
322.400 – Jacksonville Approach/Departure
228.400 – Townsend Range
339.500 – VMFA-115 Tac 1
139.700 – 23rd FG air-to-air
140.200 – 23rd FG air-to-air
143.150 – 23rd FG air-to-air

When I go back to Douglas (and I do plan to go back for future trips to the WWII Flight Training Museum and Heritage Station Museum as well as General Coffee State Park) I’ll be listening more for Moody AFB railroad activity.  I definitely have a better idea of what can be heard from the Alma and Douglas areas now.

Heritage Station Museum – Douglas, GA

Douglas, GA – As I mentioned in the first day’s scanning report the first stop on my Douglas/Coffee County road trip was the Heritage Station Museum.  It is very easy to find if you come into Douglas on GA 32; GA 32 becomes Ward St and if you’re coming from the east, just keep an eye out on the right just after you pass by US 441.  It is a very distinctive brick train depot building.  The depot was built in 1905 by the Wadley and Mount Vernon Railroad and was taken over by the Georgia and Florida Railroad in 1907.  In the 1980s the depot was closed and in 1999 it was renovated and opened at the Heritage Station Museum.

The Heritage Station Museum as seen from Ward St.
The Heritage Station Museum as seen from Ward St.

The side of the Heritage Station Museum including  a steam engine.
The side of the Heritage Station Museum including a steam engine.

The museum currently isn’t as active or complete as it once was due to local government budget issues and some smoke/fire damage.  The staff and volunteers are currently working to get it back on it’s feet though and they do let visitors in to tour the museum, you just have to press a button next to the door and they’ll come let you in.  I’m looking forward to making another visit once they’re back operating at full speed.  It features displays on the history of Douglas and Coffee County from the time of the Clovis people, the founding of Douglas and Coffee County, the foundations of the area economy – naval stores, cotton, tobacco, general agriculture, and the railroad, area involvement in the military, local public safety, and key figures in local history, including a collection of key figures in local African American history.

Display of artifacts and artifact recreations showing the area's history back to the Clovis time.
Display of artifacts and artifact recreations showing the area’s history back to the Clovis time.

Display on one of the key parts of the local economy - Naval Stores.
Display on one of the key parts of the local economy – Naval Stores.

Display on tobacco farming, another key part of the Douglas/Coffee County economy.
Display on tobacco farming, another key part of the Douglas/Coffee County economy.

One of several displays highlighting the Civil War
One of several displays highlighting the Civil War

One of the displays highlighting the involvement of area residents in other wars.
One of the displays highlighting the involvement of area residents in other wars.

Display about the history of the Coffee County Sheriff's Office.
Display about the history of the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office.

Display on the history of the Douglas FD and PD, including a bell from a 1954 American LaFrance ladder truck.
Display on the history of the Douglas FD and PD, including a bell from a 1954 American LaFrance ladder truck.

Display on rural life - in this case a kitchen.
Display on rural life – in this case a kitchen.

Another display on rural life, this time tools relative to trades key to the area's economy.
Another display on rural life, this time tools relative to trades key to the area’s economy.

One of the things you can immediately take from the museum being located in a former train depot is just how much of a key the railroad has been in Douglas and Coffee County history.  The Georgia and Florida Railroad took over from the Wadley and Mount Vernon Railroad in 1907; in 1909 the railroad built railyards north of Douglas and the city became the Georgia and Florida Railroad central hub.  The Georgia and Florida ran between Augusta, GA and Madison, FL where there were railroad connections throughout the nation, enabling Coffee County and the surrounding area to export naval stores, tobacco, and other agricultural goods.  The Georgia and Florida Railroad was a major employer in Douglas and Coffee County and was key to the local economy.  In the 1960s, the line was taken over by Norfolk Southern and continued to operate it until the late 1980s.   After it fell out of use, Norfolk Southern deeded the depot to the City of Douglas for the purposes of a local history museum.

Southern Railroad caboose at the Heritage Station Museum
Southern Railroad caboose at the Heritage Station Museum

Display of railroad office including office equipment and original documents.
Display of railroad office including office equipment and original documents.

Various railroad related items
Various railroad related items

Survey tranist purchased from the railroad and used to lay out streets in Douglas during the 1960s.
Survey tranist purchased from the railroad and used to lay out streets in Douglas during the 1960s.

A fully functional scale locomotive; they hope to obtain more of it and one day operate it around the outside of the museum.
A fully functional scale locomotive; they hope to obtain more of it and one day operate it around the outside of the museum.

Various pieces of railroad telegraphy equipment including keys and sounders.
Various pieces of railroad telegraphy equipment including keys and sounders.

A very interesting hand made water cooler made in the Georgia and Florida Railroad shop.
A very interesting hand made water cooler made in the Georgia and Florida Railroad shop.

I’m very glad that I stopped at the Heritage Station Museum, if you are going to visit the Douglas/Coffee County area and like me weren’t very familiar with it the museum is an excellent introduction to the history of the area and should be one of your first stops.  It is within easy walking distance of the downtown/historic area of Douglas and one of these days, I’ll be back to visit the museum when it’s back to full form then walk the historic district.

Train Watching at the Folkston Funnel; 18 January 2014

Folkston, GA – Last Saturday,  I went down to to Folkston for a few hours to watch trains from the Folkston Funnel train watching platform.  The weather was wonderful, so it was a great day for train watching.  I was working in Brunswick for the weekend and didn’t have anything better to do for the afternoon, so it was off to Folkston.  While there, I met train watcher Gordon Davis.  His knowledge main watching the trains even more fun and I learned a few things while there.  Gordon was taking photos as well as video of the trains and you can see his videos of  trains from the Folkston Funnel and other locations on his YouTube page.  The railway was quite active while I was there and Gordon (having been there since morning) said it had been that way all day.

A well worn CSX 7693 northbound at the Folkston Funnel.
A well worn CSX 7693 northbound at the Folkston Funnel.

CSX 7693
CSX 7693

CSX 7345 and CSX 8319 southbound, passing the Folkston Railroad Transportation Museum.
CSX 7345 and CSX 8319 southbound, passing the Folkston Railroad Transportation Museum.

CSX 7345 and CSX 8319
CSX 7345 and CSX 8319

CSX 4001 and CSX 8532 northbound at the Folkston Funnel.
CSX 4001 and CSX 8532 northbound at the Folkston Funnel.

CSX 455 and CSX 215 southbound at the Folkston Funnel.
CSX 455 and CSX 215 southbound at the Folkston Funnel.

CSX 597 and CSX 89 northbound at the Folkston Funnel.
CSX 597 and CSX 89 northbound at the Folkston Funnel.

CSX 744 and CSX 575 northbound at the Folkston Funnel.
CSX 744 and CSX 575 northbound at the Folkston Funnel.