Carter Railroad Museum’s Heritage Day honors Norfolk Southern railway

 JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University’s George L. Carter Railroad Museum will hold its October Heritage Day on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The theme for October is “Precision Transportation: N&W and NS Glory.”

The Roanoke, Virginia-based company now known as Norfolk Southern (NS) has a history spanning decades. In 2012, the railroad devoted a group of new locomotives to its own corporate past. These engines were painted in historically derived schemes similar to the ones featured on their predecessor lines, among them the Interstate, Nickel Plate, Wabash and Central of Georgia.

The museum will feature steam engines from the past, when the old Norfolk & Western was the sole major United States railroad still using them, along with the heritage-style modern diesels.

“We found that this is a great way to connect these eras; both are significant in their own right,” says Geoff Stunkard, the museum’s Heritage Days coordinator. “With the railroad running both an occasional steam excursion as well as these colorful new engines right here on the NS mainline through Johnson City, the Heritage Day lets us paint a broad picture of how much this company cares about its past. We are looking forward to having models of these trains running here at ETSU at our event.”

The N&W was faced with daunting challenges from its terrain and its largest commodity, coal. From the 19th century through today, it supplies power to the world, while offering an easy way to get exports to tidewater at Norfolk, Virginia. Through expansion, its beginnings in little “hollars” have led to the modern Norfolk Southern Corporation. With the slogan “Precision Transportation,” the old N&W made no excuses and worked to get the job done. It combined with the Southern Railway to become one of today’s “super systems” in American railroading.

Since the event falls on Oct. 31, the Little Engineers’ Children’s Activity Room will host special fun for children.

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 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

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

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