Horsepower 2021, Tweetsie celebration running back-to-back at Carter RR Museum

Published 11:47 am Tuesday, May 25, 2021

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Prepare for two weekends filled with railroading history at East Tennessee State University. On May 29, the George L. Carter Railroad Museum, located in the Campus Center Building, will kick off its Modern Equipment “Horsepower 2021” Heritage Day, followed by a limited attendance, two and a half-day Tweetsie Celebration, June 4-6.
Both events will allow visitors to see railroading’s diverse history, beginning with the annual modern diesel day to showcase today’s high-horsepower equipment. Operating in miniature at the Fred Alsop Gallery, this event has proven popular with younger fans who have seen the real trains in action.
The day’s exhibit will feature nationwide railroad companies, both with current corporate schemes and the historical paint designs that some railroads have applied to special engines during the past decade. Diesels from all eras will be shared, but more up-to-date examples will run on the museum’s 24-by-44-foot layout. Even the most diehard “steam lover” will enjoy the earlier form of technology on a G-Scale logging exhibit, as well as the large East Tennessee and Western North Carolina (ETWNC) layout in HOn3 scale.
The second weekend will focus on the ETWNC operation, and registration is now open. This inaugural Tweetsie Celebration will be a two-and-a-half day, multi-faceted program devoted to the region’s beloved narrow-gauge line that ran between Johnson City and Boone, North Carolina until 1940.
The Tweetsie Celebration will serve as a scaled-down replacement to the annual Big Train Show, postponed this year due to ongoing renovations at the ETSU Mini Dome.
“We regret we cannot host the Big Train Show in 2021, but this will be a great event to introduce this railroad’s background to our community,” said Fred Alsop, museum director. “We will showcase the history, geography and research that has gone into this project on Friday, and follow up with operations on the model itself with a chance to attendees to operate one of our trains on Saturday. We also have an additional ride in the Doe River Gorge scheduled for Sunday morning as a conclusion.”  Due to size, the Tweetsie Celebration is limited to 60 attendees, with Sunday’s ride limited to 80 seats which is for an additional cost.
Additional information and pricing may be found on the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders (MEMRR) website,, under the “Heritage Days” tab. Sunday’s ride will be on a first-come, first serve basis. Club members and members of the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society will serve as hosts.
Carter Railroad Museum, identified by a flashing railroad crossing signal located at the back entrance to the ETSU Campus Center Building, is open on Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and includes model railroad layouts, a special child’s activity room, and other ongoing programs. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. The museum also seeks artifacts for display, including those from the Tweetsie line. More information can be found at
For more information or directions, contact Alsop at 423-439-6838 or For disability accommodations, call ETSU Office of Disability Services at 439-8346.

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