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Carter Railroad Museum to showcase Midwestern railroading

Photo contributed by Logan Heaton • Debuting in 1935, the streamlined Hiawatha was a special train used in the highly-competitive Milwaukee/Chicago passenger market, often attaining speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour on its sprints between those two cities.

From Staff Reports

On Saturday, June 26, George L. Carter Railroad Museum, located in the Campus Center Building of East Tennessee State University, will showcase North American Midwestern railroading during its monthly Heritage program.

This special event will reflect on passenger and freight efforts in the pre-1960 era, when the region’s rail network was centered in multiple major cities such as Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and others for a variety of uses, from steel mills to grain elevators and auto manufacturers to stock yards.

“For the nation, this was the ‘breadbasket,’ the place of abundance and employment,” said Geoff Stunkard, coordinator of monthly Heritage programs at the Carter Railroad Museum. “One thing about this special celebration is the sheer variety of train and operations that served the Midwest. From the hyper-competitive passenger markets of Milwaukee to Chicago and epic streamliners it created to the huge trains of inbound coal, on-time refrigerated shipments, and finished products like automobiles, the Midwest was a kaleidoscope of color and variety that enthusiasts of railroad history have always warmly embraced, and we can still appreciate it a half-century later.”

Representation of diverse lines including many of the nation’s largest – Santa Fe and New York Central, Rock Island, and Baltimore and Ohio – will also be part of the museum’s Midwestern Heritage Day, most of which will take place on its 24-by-44 HO scale layout, owned and operated by Mountain Empire Model Railroaders Club.

In addition, steam-era logging trains will run on the museum’s interactive G scale railroad, while the museum N-scale will also feature some Midwestern equipment. For fans of regional railroading, the nationally-recognized ET&WNC narrow gauge display in HOn3 scale will be in operation as well. Considered one of the most exacting replications of this railroad, it has been featured nationally.

Members of the Mountain Empire Model Railroaders Club and the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society will serve as hosts for this annual event.

All visitors who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine are encouraged to wear a face covering in the museum. Parking will not be available in the immediate area surrounding the museum due to construction, but will be available outside the fenced area.

Carter Railroad Museum, identified by a flashing railroad crossing signal located at the back entrance to the ETSU Campus Center Building, is open on Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and includes model railroad layouts, a special child’s activity room, and other ongoing programs. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

For more information or directions, call Fred Alsop at (423) 439-6838 or [email protected], or visit For disability accommodations, call ETSU Office of Disability Services at (423) 439-8346.