Carter Railroad Museum Heritage Day is Saturday

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, June 21, 2022

JOHNSON CITY — From Chicago to St. Louis, America’s big Midwestern cities had something in common — railroads galore.

On Saturday, June 25, the free-entry George L. Carter Railroad Museum on the campus of East Tennessee State University will showcase the railroads that once crisscrossed the Midwest. With an industrial and agricultural base, the action was non-stop and numerous railroads were the primary way to reach cities from smaller towns and areas before the highway system came into being.

“At least as railroad history is concerned, the East and West truly met here,” said Geoff Stunkard, coordinator for the museum’s Heritage Day programs. “There were thousands of trains, tens of thousands of passengers and millions of tons of freight that traveled by this method before jets and highways were commonplace. Due to the competitive nature of these operations, bright colors, speed and reputation all played into what could be termed the drama of Midwestern rail operations. This event is a favorite tradition for all of us here as well.”

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Thanks to railroads constructed within the Midwest coupled with water resources of the Great Lakes and navigable rivers, huge industries that employed hundreds of thousands of people flourished in the region, often with coal and timber shipped from the southern Appalachians. The final products were then shipped globally, adding in great part to America’s legendary reputation for quality, organizers said. Beyond that, throughout the Midwest were elevators of grain, fresh produce, livestock and other agricultural goods that also relied on railroads to get to market.

The Carter Railroad Museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and includes model railroad layouts, a special child’s activity room and ongoing programs. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome.

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 toward 176 Ross Drive, adjacent to the flashing railroad 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.