Monday, June 27, 2016

Want to travel with history? Hit the Rails!

By Nina Kendall

Railroads played a crucial role in the growth and development of the United States. The Transcontinental Railroad tied the country together spurring immigration and economic growth. Population centers and controversy emerged as the railroads grew in the 19th century.  Railroads were the nerve system of the American economy in the 19th century.

The economic importance of railroads have declined over time but their place in the American heart and mind remains strong. Many Americans continue to be fascinated by the railroads and the idyllic lifestyle they evoke. My younger brother’s fascination with trains began as a younger and continues into adulthood.

If you have a family member or friend, who is fan of the rails, there are some great destination for you to consider. Museums that preserve trains and railroad history have a variety of exhibits and attractions to enjoy. You might begin with a traditional exhibit and end your tour with a train ride.

Here are a few railway museums we have enjoyed:

The Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah is a great place to explore the history of the rails. You can enjoy exhibits inside this historic landmark before you head out back to explore the rail yard. This site has lots of trains to explore and an operational turntable. You can even choose to take a ride in a historic locomotive.
          Another great place to explore railroad history is the North Carolina Transportation museum south of Greensboro. The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a true treat for the railroad aficionado. This museum is located on the site of the Spencer Shops in Spencer, North Carolina. The Spencer Shops were the Southern Railway Company's largest steam locomotive servicing facility. Here you can learn about what if took to repair and maintain steam locomotives. You can learn about trains from the inside out.  Visitors can also explore the history of the shop, and enjoy a train ride. Other exhibits include cars and planes.

In Old Sacramento there are numerous opportunities to enjoy history including the California State Railroad Museum. The California State Railroad Museum has another unique look into rail history. This museum will is a great opportunity to explore the Transcontinental Railroad and how it was developed. You can even get a chance to see the golden spike.  This railroad also includes cars that you can explore including a Pullman railroad car. This is a museum designed for both young and old to enjoy.

Are you looking for a railway museum closer to you? Try the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums (ATRRM). You can search their site for museums and railroads near you to enjoy.

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