The N.C. Transportation Museum The Museum That Moves You!

Jerry Blackwelder

The N.C. Transportation Museum The Museum That Moves You!

Each Tuesday through Friday, the N.C. Transportation Museum offers guided tours for school students featuring a look into the mechanics and the history of transportation, from railroading and automotive exhibits and displays to aviation and maritime activities. Specialty school tours will also be offered on select days, with a daytime offering of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride this Christmas season. In 2020, special events will include from swashbuckling pirates, aviation experiences, and down-home farm fun. Tour offerings meet North Carolina curriculum standards for history, arts, or STEM.

Between 1896 and the 1950s, the grounds of what is now the N.C. Transportation Museum was filled with chugging steam locomotives arriving on the site for regular maintenance or complete overhauls at what was then called Spencer Shops. Nearly 3000 workers kept Southern Railway’s trains rolling up and down the east coast, delivering goods, raw materials, and passengers to their destinations. 

Today, the N.C. Transportation Museum is “the museum that moves you,” with train rides, exhibits full of transportation history, and guided tours. The historic structures of Spencer Shops are now filled with railroading, maritime, aviation, and automotive displays, featuring interactive exhibits and immersive experiences for school tours and families alike.

During the 2019 – 2020 school year, educational tours will include a look at steam locomotive science, allowing students to climb into the cab of a 1913 steam locomotive to learn how fi re, water, and steam moved these machines down the rails. Students will learn how to build a better boat, hoisting the sails of their pirate ship to see how much treasure it can carry without sinking. At the museum’s full-size replica Wright Flyer, students will see how those two Ohio brothers steered their plane, then design and test a small flying machine in our vertical wind tunnel.  Students can then climb aboard the Railway Post Office car.

The museum’s first special event of the school year involves a daytime journey aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. This special student edition of the museum’s biggest event happens Dec. 2 and 9, with train rides offered at 10am and 11:30am each day. Students will climb aboard as the holiday favorite film comes to life during a 90-minute round trip to the North Pole. Hot cocoa and cookies are served, the conductor punches each passenger’s golden ticket, and Santa gives each child a silver sleigh bell. Everyone is encouraged to wear pajamas! Special pricing applies. Visit

The Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge traveling exhibit returns to the N.C. Transportation Museum from January 16 through March 29. The exhibit features interactive displays and artifacts from the ship. During this special day for school groups, you can try your hand (or hook) at a scavenger hunt, hoist up a Jolly Roger of your own design, and dig for buried pirate treasure! Tours will be offered during the exhibit’s stay at the museum with additional piratical offerings Feb. 28.

The N.C. Transportation Museum reaches for the skies (with feet firmly on the ground) during this aviation-themed event. Students can talk with aviation professionals about careers, admire a fleet of model airplanes, and build some flying machines of their own. School tours are being planned for this event March 20.

Students will learn about life on the farm, past and present. Amid rows of lovingly restored antique and contemporary tractors, students will be able to watch a blacksmith at work, talk with beekeepers, and plant seeds to take home. Special school tours for this event are being booked for April 17.


NC Transportation Museum

411 S Salisbury Ave, Spencer, NC , (704) 636-2889,

The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a transport museum in Spencer, North Carolina. The museum is largely devoted to the state's railroad history; however, its collection also includes exhibits of automobiles and aircraft.

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Matthews, NC 28106

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