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University News

Shortline and industrial rails go ‘heavy metal’ during Heritage Day
Carter Railroad Heritage Day

JOHNSON CITY (Feb. 19, 2019) — The age of American industry will be remembered at the George L. Carter Railroad Museum on Saturday, Feb. 23. Several unique industrial-oriented railroad operation s will be exhibited for Heritage Day, held in the Campus Center Building at East Tennessee State University.

Short lines were just what the name implies, railroad companies that normally operated less than 200 miles. Foremost in this area was the narrow-gauge East Tennessee & Western North Carolina (Tweetsie) line. Built to service ore movements from Cranberry, North Carolina, to a steel mill in Johnson City, its smaller 36”-width cars could not be sent forward on standard-gauged 54” track sizes. The museum’s extensive model of this operation in the Ken Marsh Display Hall has been featured in national magazines and is considered the largest example in existence of this scale.

“This is a special event for us for a number of reasons,” explains Geoff Stunkard, coordinator of the Heritage Days program. “We have committed a lot of time and resources to our ET&WNC layout and have created a number of important industrial scenes on our other displays, as well. We now have a true-scale model of the original Johnson City steel mill, and our G-gauge layout focuses on timber operations, another facet of our regional industries. The short-line idea fits this museum quite well.”

Models of short line and industrial trains will operate on the museum’s 24x44 foot HO standard gauge scale operation as well as the ET&WNC exhibit, in addition to the logging railroad equipment.

The Carter Railroad Museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes model railroad layouts, a children’s activity room and ongoing programs. Heritage Day is held the last Saturday of each month. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome.

The museum is also seeking artifacts for its displays, including the newest addition dedicated to the “Tweetsie” line, the ET&WNC, which is open for guided tours during event days. In addition to the displays, there is a growing research library, and an oral history archive is being established as part of the museum’s programs. For more information, visit

Members of the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and Mountain Empire Model Railroaders club (MEMR) coordinate the exhibits. For more information, visit or

The Carter Railroad 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 RR 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.

Media contact
Amanda Mowell


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