Carter Railroad Museum’s Heritage Day features ‘Small Trains’

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University’s George L. Carter Railroad Museum will hold its August Heritage Day on Saturday, Aug. 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The theme for August is “Small Trains in Miniature” and is devoted to short lines, industrial operations and rural transport of the past.

The small and medium-sized operations coupled the entire rail system to the nation’s farthest reaches. Many featured a “mixed train” or a smaller scheduled train that combined freight and passenger service in a single unit, usually on a one-daily or regular schedule. With the advent of better roadways and personal automobile ownership, many lines disappeared. Operations that have specific responsibilities to a region continue, but only in the freight business. Today, these are known as “short line railroads.”

Many people felt a sense of local pride about short line railroads, as they were often considered ‘our train’ by a community,” notes Geoff Stunkard, coordinator of the monthly Heritage Days program. “This was especially true here in East Tennessee where the Tweetsie narrow gauge line once ran into the mountains. We will use this event to demonstrate how short line operations functioned.”

In addition to mixed operations on the HO scale layout, there will be demonstrations of unique logging steam engines called upon when tracks had severe curvature or gradients. A display of original steam engine catalogs and small scale diesels will complete the program and the museum’s ongoing project of replicating the Tweetsie line will also be available for tour-guided viewing.

Members of the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders (MEMRR) club will coordinate the exhibits. Visit www.memrr.org to learn more about MEMRR, which helps demonstrate and maintain the model layouts, museum exhibits and other projects.

The Carter Railroad Museum is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed. 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 onto Jack Vest Drive and continue east to 176 Ross Drive, adjacent to the flashing RR crossing sign.

To learn more about the museum, visit http://johnsonsdepot.com/glcarter/cartermuseum.

For more information about Heritage Day, contact Dr. Fred Alsop, museum director, at 423-439-6838 or alsopf@etsu.edu.  For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

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