Heritage Day is Saturday at ETSU’s railroad museum

Published 10:59 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

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JOHNSON CITY – This Saturday’s Heritage Day at the George L. Carter Railroad Museum at East Tennessee State University is going to growl with excitement as the colorful diesel streamliners and workhorses of the past roar to life in miniature form.
“There were a number of factors that played into the railroad business’ radical change over to the diesel engine following the end of World War II,” said Geoff Stunkard, coordinator of the Heritage Days program. “The most important was not horsepower but economics. Steam engines required extensive maintenance, while well-cared-for diesels could run off hundreds of thousands of miles with minimal problems, and, with everything replaceable, could be serviced without customization. Of course, the colors and streamlined shapes had a different appeal, but all came down to money once the engineering proved durable enough for this environment.”
A number of classic machines, in miniature form, will be in operation Saturday (April 29).“A great variety of interests from the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders club means there will be equipment not seen on other weekends on hand, as well,” organizers said. “Southern and Clinchfield trains will be complemented by power from diverse lines like the Santa Fe, Union Pacific and Pennsylvania railroads, with a cutoff date of 1960 to keep the focus on what is referred to as the early first-generation model designs.”
The Carter Railroad Museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and includes model railroad layouts, a special children’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 alsopf@etsu.edu. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at (423) 439-8346.  
The museum will transition to a new location after the Big Train Show in early June.

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