The free-admission George L. Carter Railroad Museum, located in the Campus Center Building of East Tennessee State University, will highlight some of the most distinctive railroads that ever existed in America as the 2021 Heritage Day program continues.
“Non-Stop Northeast” is the name of the July 31 event that will focus on the important lines north of Washington, D.C. and east of the gateway city of Buffalo, New York. Known as the metropolitan corridor, these were, and remain, some of the highest-density transportation routes in the world centered on New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and the District of Columbia.“The network of rail lines in that region was incredible, especially in the historic era that we often try to operate on the museum’s layouts,” said Geoff Stunkard, coordinator of the Heritage Day program.
Funneling resources both for the nation and for export at multiple port cities, bigger lines were dominant in each region, but many smaller lines existed as well. Moreover, three major steam locomotive manufacturers were in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, as well as steel mills, chemical firms and quality goods producers. Add in a highly competitive passenger market and commuter trains from the suburbs, and one begins to understand how busy the railroads were as well as their impact on the nation’s economic might.
“With the heavy traffic requirements and to abate smoke issues, some of these lines were fully electrified,” said Stunkard. “We hope to be able to display and run a variety of technologies both past and present at this event, and visitors should find some unique trains operating on the MEMRR’s HO scale layout.”
That is one of four operational displays at the museum. In addition to that large 24×44 HO scale layout, owned and operated by the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders club, there is an interactive G scale railroad representing rural logging, an N-scale display, and the museum’s nationally-recognized ET&WNC narrow gauge exhibit in HOn3 scale. All will be in operation.
The Mountain Empire Model Railroaders club and the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society serve as hosts during the museum’s operating hours, and will be on hand to meet visitors and tour the exhibits areas. The Carter Railroad Museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes model railroad layouts, a special child’s activity room and ongoing programs. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome for its upkeep. The museum is also seeking artifacts for display, including the addition dedicated to the long-defunct, but well-remembered “Tweetsie” line, the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad. This room, still under construction, again will be open for guided tours during event days. Info can be found online at http://etsu.edu/railroad/ or http://stateoffranklin.net/johnsons/glcarter/cartermuseum.htm. In addition to the displays, there is also a growing research library, and an oral history archive being established.
Members of the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders (MEMRR) club coordinate the exhibits. Visit www.memrr.org to learn more about MEMRR or visit http://glcarternrhs.com/ to learn more about the Carter Chapter NRHS, which helps demonstrate and maintain the model layouts, museum exhibits and other projects. Membership opportunities are available to adults and include special benefits and model railroading enjoyment.
The museum can be identified by a flashing railroad crossing signal at the back entrance to the Campus Center Building. Visitors should enter ETSU’s campus from State of Franklin Road (at the traffic light) onto Jack Vest Drive and continue south to David Collins Way (then left) to John Roberts Bell Drive at end, then right and then next left on Ross Drive (176) to end, adjacent to the flashing RR crossing sign.
For more information about the museum or its Heritage Day events, contact Fred Alsop at 423-439-6838 or email@example.com. For disability accommodations, please call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.
Note: Because of COVID-19, all unvaccinated visitors are asked to wear a mask to be admitted and will be temperature checked at the museum entrance. There is construction in the area and the parking lot immediately adjacent to the museum is not available for parking, but the short additional walk will be worth the effort.