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Carter Railroad Museum's March Heritage Day honors steam locomotives

staff report • Mar 27, 2013 at 8:38 AM

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University’s George L. Carter Railroad Museum will hold its March Heritage Day on Saturday, March 30, when the museum will present “STEAM UP! Steam Railroading Remembered.”

This is the third year that the popular program will be presented, and the museum staff will be “at full throttle and shoveling on the coal” to bring the steam era to life for visitors. The day features demonstrations of various locomotive designs on the 24x44 HO scale layout, artwork and published accounts of steam operations and tours of the under-construction ET&WNC narrow-gauge steam railroad exhibit, plus steam train videos. As usual, the children’s room will provide the younger set with hands-on play time with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends.

Steam locomotives reigned supreme from the earliest days of railroading until the 1930s. Sometimes referred to as an “iron horse,” the locomotives could top 100 mph and pull a mile of freight cars. Development of the internal combustion diesel platform eventually led to the end of the steam era.

“Steam railroading will always have a place in the history, and people find them to be fascinating machines,” said Geoff Stunkard, coordinator of the Heritage Day program. “STEAM UP! gives people an idea of how the equipment was used, its evolution and its eventual end. The sounds of steam are uniquely thunderous; most people who have seen one of the few examples still running never forget it.

The Carter Railroad Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturdays. Admission is free. The museum can be identified by a flashing railroad crossing signal over the back entrance to the Campus Center Building. Visitors should enter ETSU’s campus from State of Franklin Road onto John Robert Bell Drive and turn left to 100 Ross Drive.

The museum includes a children’s activity room, a growing research library, a National Railway Historical Society chapter, docent opportunities and an oral history archive being established as part of the museum’s programs. Information can be found online at http://johnsonsdepot.com/glcarter/cartermuseum.htm.

The Mountain Empire Model Railroaders (MEMRR) club works in conjunction with the museum to demonstrate and maintain the model layouts, museum exhibits and other projects. Visit www.memrr.org to learn more about the group.

For more information about the event or special assistance for those with disabilities, call Dr. Fred Alsop, the museum’s director, at (423) 439-6838.

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