The NC Transportation Museum has quickly become one of our favorite places to visit. The museum, located in Spencer, NC, opened in 1982, ocated on the site of what was once Southern Railway Company's largest steam locomotive servicing facility. J.P. Morgan, Southern's owner, chose the site because of its location midway between the railroad's major terminal points of Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Ga. Construction of the Shops began in 1896, and they were named in honor of the first president of Southern Railway, Samuel Spencer.
Today, the museum grounds and shop areas have mostly been restored, and are open to the public. The mueum hosts all sorts of gatherings and special event though out the year, and we were excited to visit the museum for their annual Easter Bunny Express event!
We started our day at the picnic tables, eating some lunch that we brought with us.
Though we brought our lunch, there are often concessions available, like hamburgers and hot dogs. It's easy to pack a cooler and just bring your lunch along, though. There are also some places to eat nearby, if you need to go off campus for a meal, and return later on.
B was proud to be keeper of the museum map, which also gave us the train ride times.
Our train ride was for a specific time, so after we ate our lunch, we picked up our tickets for the train ride at ticket office, and got in line for our train ride! We've been on this particular train three or four times, but each time is like the first time to B! He loves trains to much, and was fascinated (this time) by how big the train was, compared to him. As we waited in line, B got chatty with the conductor, and asked a lot of questions. The staff and engineers at the Transportation Museum are so friendly, and really enjoy the kids!
B and Sacha, in front of the Easter Express Train
B and me, also in front of the Easter Express Train
Once we boarded the train, there were so many excited children! Everyone was eager to see the Easter Bunny, and watch him come aboard and give out Easter Bunny hugs. I was nervous how B would receive the Easter Bunny. Last year, he was afraid of the Easter Bunny, but this year, he seemed eager to meet him again.
Here we are aboard the Easter Bunny Express, waiting for the Easter Bunny's big entrance...
Here he comes! The Easter Bunny was escorted to the train in an old NC State Patrol Car!
We heard lots of excited shouts as the Easter Bunny hopped his way to the train and came aboard. He made his way through the cars, followed by a couple of sweet little girls, who were passing out a piece of candy to each child. While we waited for the Easter Bunny to reach our train car, we enjoyed the 25 minute train ride, which took us around the grounds of the museum. My husband pointed out some of the old train cars that are not in use right now, and was pretty sure that they were the ones he rode as a child, when he first visited the museum with school groups! I have to say, stuff like that makes us feel old!
Hooray- the Easter Bunny!
The Easter Bunny finally made his way to our train car, and B was so excited to watch him walk down the aisle! He held out his hand to the Easter Bunny for a high five, gave him a hug, and was perfectly happy to have his picture taken with him, too! After our visit with the Easter Bunny, the train pulled back into the station, and it was time for us to head off to a fun activity! As we left the train, B thanked the conductor for taking us for a ride.
B, enjoying Thomas & Friends Putt-Putt golf.
...and trying his hand at 'corn hole.' In my world, it's just a bean bag toss, but around here, it's called corn hole. I don't get it... probably because the bags are filled with corn, instead of beans. Regardless, he had a great time playing!
There were lots of fun activities for the kids set up at the NC Transportation Museum. They were able to play mini golf, corn hole, have fun at the bubble blowing station, etc. The museum staff always does such a great job to make sure there are plenty of fun things for the kiddos to do! We didn't go into the gift shop this particular visit, but it's definitely worh visiting, especially if you or your little one collect trains! There are usually helpers in the gift shop, who have stickers and temporary train tattoos for the kiddos. There are also train tables set up in there for the children to play with, and lots of Thomas and Chuggington play sets to purchase and take home!
B, playing with one of the train sets in the train demo area...
There was also a seriously cute Easter craft station, but we couldn't convince B to sit still long enough to make the craft. There were lots of other things he wanted to see.
We had fun walking through the section of the museum that housed the old cars...
Here's the info plaque about the old NC Highway Patrol Car that escorted the Easter Bunny to the Train. It's a beauty!
B, walking down the aisle with daddy, checking out some of the cars...
One of B's favorite displays... the motorcycles!
One of my favorite displays... the old milk bottles! I remember my dad and grandmother telling stories of having fresh milk delivered daily.
After our tour through the automobile museum, we walked out to the caboose on display. We've actually ridden one of these at the Transportation Museum before, and B was eager to climb up on it and explore the ins and outs of it. Most of all, he wanted to turn that big, heavy wheel!
Checking out the caboose...
We made our way into the area of the museum that houses the old locomotives. I had never been through this part of the museum in my past visits, so I was really interested to see some of the old train cars. There were dozens of trains on display, some of which you could actually walk through!
We walked through an old US Army Medical Train. We got to see where they kept their equipment, and the rows upon rows of hospitals beds, stacked up in the cars... about three beds high.
One of our favorite trains to walk through- a US mail train! Check out all of the mail sacks, and boxes!
B enjoyed sorting through some old mail, and leaving a letter for someone in a mail box on the train.
One of my favorite trains, with luxury cars. Lots of room to move around, complete with private balconies, bedrooms, sitting rooms, and dining rooms! I'd still travel this way!
We also got to check out an old switch board. Could you imagine being the person who had to keep all of these switches straight!?
Steering display, showing how the train stays on the tracks...
There are so many more areas of the museum. There's an area with a replica of the Wright Brothers first plane, as well as an old flight simulator, plus, lots of information about some of the first airlines, and more! We really enjoyed walking through the restoration shop, where they actually work to restore some of the old train cars, and you can watch while they work. We saw a lot of painting happening while we were there. We ran out of time for our visit, but if we had made our way down a bit further out of the roundhouse, we could have taken a ride on the turntable, for an additional fee.
As we wrapped up our visit, we caught the trolley for a ride back up to our car.
It's so nice that the museum offers free trolley rides all day long. The trolley goes all over the museum grounds, offering rides to key places, so visitors who have trouble walking, can take it easy. The museum grounds are quite spread out, so visitors should wear comfortable shoes, and be prepared to do a lot of walking.
We had such a wonderful time visiting the NC Transportation Museum for the Easter Bunny Express event! The NC Transporation Museum offers special events all year long!
Check out some of their upcoming events...
May 29-June 1: Streamliners in Spencer Event
August 2: All Ford Show
August 9: All GM Show
September 26-28: Day Out with Thomas Tour
October 3-5: Day Out with Thomas
Want to Go? Plan Your Visit!
The NC Transportation Museum is open year round, and always has special family friendly events happening! If you or someone close to you loves trains and automobiles, this is definitely a place you'll want to visit! Folks from all over the county seem to be visiting the museum each time we're there, and I don't blame them for making the trip- it's a magical adventure back in time, and a wonderful way for kids and adults to learn about the history of Spencer, NC, and the history of the locomotive.
Special thanks to the NC Transportation Museum and to our friends at US Family Guide for allowing us to visit and share about our fun experience at the Easter Express event! We can't wait to visit again!
Disclosure: My family and I were provided with tickets to the event by the NC Transportation Museum as pasrt of a special promotion through US Family Guide. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own. Your experience may differ.