Tweetsie Railroad expert Johnny Graybeal will hold book singing during Heritage Day

Published 8:23 am Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Carter Railroad Museum at ETSU will showcase equipment from the Carolina shores to the bayous of Louisiana during “All South!” Heritage Day scheduled for Oct. 26. Author Johnny Graybeal will also make a guest appearance to sign copies of “The Railroads of Johnson City.”

The rail lines that ran through Johnson City were all considered major carriers that linked the South and North. Other southern operations included regional lines like the Tennessee Central, Florida East Coast, the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis, and the Central of Georgia, while larger operations such as the Illinois Central and Louisville & Nashville also reached deep into the region.

“There was a huge expansion of railroading nationally during the 1870-1920 era, but the South focused a lot on customer quality,” says Geoff Stunkard, coordinator for the museum’s monthly programs. “Vacation passenger travel was considered a luxury, and agricultural and manufactured products were also substantial. The result was a network of operations that ranged from colorful mainline streamliners to backwoods operations.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Located in the Campus Center Building at East Tennessee State University, the Carter Railroad Museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Heritage Day is held the last Saturday of each month. There is no admission fee to the museum, but donations are welcome.

The Mountain Empire Model Railroaders (MEMR) club and the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society will have pre-1970 model equipment running on the museum’s massive 24×44-foot HO scale model display. Graybeal, a railroad historian and authority on the famous narrow-gauge railroad that originated in Johnson City, will sign copies of “The Railroads of Johnson City.”

Graybeal has written seven books about the “Tweetsie,” the ET&WNC, and for the last 11 years, has produced a bi-annual magazine for the ET&WNC RR Historical Society. He has also written articles for the Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette, TRAINS Magazine, and the HOn3 Annual and On30 Annual produced by White River Productions. He has been a volunteer historian for Tweetsie Railroad for over two decades, was the president of the ET&WNC RR Historical Society for 18 years, and works to preserve narrow gauge railroad history at the Southeast Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum in Newton, North Carolina.

The museum is also seeking artifacts for its displays, including the newest addition dedicated to the “Tweetsie,” which is open for guided tours during event days. In addition to the displays, there is a growing research library, and an oral history archive is being established as part of the museum’s programs. For more information, visit

The Carter Railroad 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 toward 176 Ross Drive, adjacent to the flashing RR crossing sign.

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