If you have never been to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina. The museum is largely devoted to the state's railroad history; however, its collection also includes exhibits of automobiles and aircraft. It's a great place to visit and take photos on those days when the weather isn’t cooperating for outdoor photography.
From May 29-31 the transportation museum hosted the “Streamliners at Spencer”, a four-day event that showcased twenty-six classic streamlined locomotives of the 1930s through the 1950s. The museum even set up a special night time event for photographers with the trains illuminated. Each day featured different photo opportunities, highlighting different locomotives, different groupings of locomotives, and different engines in operation on the rails.
I visited late on a Saturday with the intent of taking some daylight photographs and then staying around for the night photography session. The daylight portion was really interesting. I know that people like trains (who doesn't like trains?) but this took it to an entirely new level. Some people are extremely knowledgeable about trains, nomenclature, dates of operation, detailed history and the list goes on and on and on. I know quite a few people that, like myself, are crazy about photography but this was my first time meeting people crazy about trains. There was even a helicopter near by that was selling rides to fly you over the museum so you could take aerial photos of the trains. In particular there were two older gentlemen I was talking to on the stage in front of the wheel house. They were at the event from opening until closing each day. Their depth of knowledge was truely impressive and they were very helpful with all my questions.
So the day portion was interesting with quite a few people attending the event. The night session however was a completely new experience for me. I have never seen so many SLR cameras and tripods in one place before. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of photographers roaming around the night displays. Normally when you are out and about taking photographs you might see one or two other photographers on any given day, keep in mind normally I take nature and travel photographs, I don’t work the sidelines during NFL games or red carpet events. This was amazing! Who knew there were that many photo enthusiasts in the area? People were lining up for openings in the crowd to take pictures. People were attempting, frequently unsuccessfully due to the sheer numbers of cameras, not to walk in front of other people taking photos. Despite this what could have been a very chaotic situation was pretty well self-regulated and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
So while it was a very interesting and enjoyable experience the train displays, at least for the night photography, could have been set up a little better in my opinion. Yes the trains were illuminated by external lighting but what I think would have really helped would have been having the actual train lights turned on. Without the lights on the trains just appeared dead and lifeless.
The exception to this was the brief period of time they turned the lights on the train above. If you compare the two trains I think you can see what I mean. The train lights turned on makes a world of difference.
Anyway if you haven’t been to the Transportation Museum it is a great way to spend a day. The contact information is listed below for more information.
NC Transportation Museum
411 S. Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC 28159
I hope you found this interesting. Please feel free to leave any thoughts, questions or comments that you might have.