Carter Railroad Museum’s July Heritage Day to focus on ‘Big Sky, Prairie Life’

RR Heritage Day
JOHNSON CITY (July 17, 2013) — East Tennessee State University's George L. Carter Railroad Museum will hold its free July Heritage Day on Saturday, July 27, when the museum will present "Big Sky, Prairie Life: Western Railroading in Action."

Featured will be displays from West of the Mississippi, one of the most vast rail expanses in the hemisphere. A special selection of advertising items and timetables from the Western railroads will be on display, as well as some rare Colorado narrow-gauge materials.

Credited with opening up the American West to expansion, the first transcontinental line was completed in 1869, when the Union Pacific and Central Pacific operations joined Nebraska to San Francisco. Over the next three decades, other railroads worked across the vast expanse, linking cities from San Diego to Seattle with steel rails and bringing tens of thousands of immigrants to new homesteads. Today, those multiple lines are consolidated into the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe empires, along with a few regional independent lines.

Members of the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders (MEMRR) club and the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society will be on hand to assist with the displays.

Geoff Stunkard, coordinator of the Heritage Day program, notes, "Railroads played an immense role in opening up the American West, which was a true frontier. The terrain required extensive engineering to build the lines. Today, much of our produce and food is moved across the country by rail in an environmentally-conscious way."

The Carter Railroad Museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed. The museum can be identified by a flashing railroad crossing signal over the back entrance to the Campus Center Building at 100 Ross Drive.

The museum includes model railroad layouts and a children's activity room. In addition, museum volunteers are asking the public for artifacts for the museum's newest addition, dedicated to the "Tweetsie" line, officially known as the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad. The room is still under construction, but guided tours of the room will be offered on Heritage Day.

For online information about the museum, visit

The MEMRR club works in conjunction with the museum to demonstrate and maintain the model layouts, museum exhibits and other projects. Visit to learn more about the group.

For more information about the event or special assistance for those with disabilities, contact Dr. Fred Alsop, the museum's director, at (423) 439-6838 or

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