Carter Railroad Museum’s December Heritage Day a ‘Tender’ time - WFLA News Channel 8

Carter Railroad Museum’s December Heritage Day a ‘Tender’ time

East Tennessee State University's George L. Carter Railroad Museum will hold its December Heritage Day on Saturday, Dec. 28, with "A ‘Tender' Tennessee Christmas."

The event, which will be held from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., will honor steam- and diesel-powered trains in Tennessee, including their "tenders," or coal cars.

Dr. Fred Alsop, director of the museum, explains, "Within Tennessee are significant mountainous areas situated around the lower Appalachians and the Great Smoky range, as well as the mid-state high plateau. From Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga to the Cumberland Gap, early railroads faced difficulty in the gorgeous but remote terrain. The western area of the state was flat and fast, as trains ‘highballed' between the Midwest and the South. This resulted in a variety of necessary equipment and operations, from major companies to narrow-gauge industrial shortlines."

The museum will honor predecessors to the current CSX and Norfolk Southern lines active in the "early days," such as standard gauge railways like the Clinchfield, Southern, Illinois Central, Louisville & Nashville, Chattanooga, Nashville & St. Louis and Tennessee Central, as well as such narrow-gauge logging lines as the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina, or "Tweetsie" line.

Geoff Stunkard, coordinator of the museum's Heritage Days program, says, "There is a certain charm to railroading here in Tennessee, and we thought the name of this Heritage Day's exhibit went along with the season and the region." They chose the name as a reference to the title of a song by popular musical artist Amy Grant.

Stunkard adds, "Every railroad being built here faced the reality of the challenging terrain in the east and the need for speed in the west. The legendary Casey Jones was from Jackson, and who can forget the Chattanooga Choo-Choo? This is a fun way to conclude the 2013 Heritage Days series; we're looking forward to it."

The museum volunteers are creating a Tweetsie scale model exhibit, which encompasses 1,300 square feet. Construction of this display is ongoing, but tours of the room are available during Heritage Day.

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.

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 at the back entrance to the Campus Center Building at 176 Ross Drive.

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, contact Alsop at (423) 439-6838 or For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at (423) 439-8346.

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