Carter Railroad Museum’s October Heritage Day honors George L. Carter


JOHNSON CITY (October 21, 2013) — East Tennessee State University’s George L. Carter Railroad Museum will hold its free October Heritage Day on Saturday, Oct. 26, when the museum presents “Our 100 Year Heritage: Mr. Carter’s Fabulous Clinchfield Lines.”

In 1911, railroad magnate and industrialist George L. Carter donated the property where ETSU stands today.  This gentleman, whose quiet involvement in the region resounds to this day, was in the process of creating the Clinchfield Railroad at that time as well.

As an added attraction, A. J. “Alf” Peoples will be at the museum from 10 a.m.-noon, autographing copies of his and Mark Stevens’ new book, The One and Only. The book tells of Clinchfield No. 1 through hundreds of color and black-and-white photos.  The engine was built in Indiana but became famous in Tennessee, especially in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s when she pulled excursion trains from Northeast Tennessee to many destinations.

The Clinchfield is gone as a corporate entity, now part of CSX, but was completed in 1915 as one of America’s very last major all-new Class 1 mainline railroad constructions. Then known as the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio, the route connected Elkhorn City, Ky. to Spartanburg, S.C., completing a long-desired direct route between the Midwest and Southeast. Moreover, the level of construction was of the highest quality, with miles of tunnels, bridges, and sweeping curves to make the rapid movement of commodities in both directions possible. The track work wound through the Nolichucky River gorge, and the railroad’s primary repair and classification operations were in nearby Erwin.

“We again chose our October event to honor Mr. Carter’s legacy, since the college also remembers its founding each October,” says Geoff Stunkard, the museum’s Heritage Days coordinator. “A special day dedicated to the Clinchfield Railroad ties right into that, and is very popular with the public. It is always popular for many of the museum’s volunteers, who are fans of this local operation.”

Members of the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders (MEMRR) club and the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society are coordinating the program. Atlanta regional equipment will be running on the large HO scale layout, one of four model lines housed in the museum. Display cabinets will feature books and schedules showing Atlanta regional railroading, and videos will show Atlanta railroads.

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 176 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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