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Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum 7/29/2018

by Chris Guenzler

We left the Tweetsie Railroad Park and then took the over an hour drive to Newton, North Carlonia.

Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum

Newton was served by the narrow gauge Chester & Lenoir, which arrived in 1882. It was folded into Southern subsidiary Carolina & North Western and standard gauged in 1902.

The Newton Depot Authority was created in 1995 to save the depot. It was on the property of Norfolk Southern, and they had plans to demolish it due to liability issues. Originally located at the junction of the C&NW and the Western North Carolina Railroads, in 1997 it was moved half a mile down the tracks. The restoration was funded through the Depot Authority with help from donors, grants, and the City of Newton. It was completed in the Summer of 2005.

Next came the Alexander Railroad Pavilion, located across the still active NS tracks. It was started in Fall of 2012 and opened to the public in October of 2016. It was funded entirely by the Alexander Railroad.

The depot authority's partner is the Alexander Chapter NRHS, which owns a majority of the equipment and museum artifacts, and performs the restorations. Under the pavilion is a mixture of local standard gauge and southern narrow gauge rolling stock.

The Collection

Lawndale Railway 311- This narrow gauge boxcar was built around 1902 by the Lawndale Railway, a 9-mile pike located 30 miles southwest of Newton. It was retired in 1943 when the railroad quit running. This one is still under restoration.

Virginia-Carolina 50- The newest acquistion of the Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum is Virginia-Carolina standard gauge 2-6-0 50 (Alco 1922). It was originally one of three engines of this class built for Cuban sugar plantations, but the order was cancelled. It saw service for a timber company, and then spent the bulk of its operating life at V-C company. In 1960, the engine was placed in the city park of Lakeland, Florida.

Carolina & North-Western 401 This wooden narrow gauge boxcar was built circa 1875 and ran through Newton on the original narrow gauge. It is believed to be the oldest narrow gauge boxcar on the east coast and oldest piece of Southern Railway equipment. It finished its service life on the Lawndale Railway. from 1910 to 1940. At 37 feet long, it is a member of the longest class of narrow gauge boxcars ever built.

Yadkin Railroad railbus 100

West Virginia Midland baggage car 1. This car is the only known narrow gauge baggage car with a southeastern heritage still in existence.

West Virginia Midland office car "Holly" (Jackson & Sharpe 1902). This car is the only known narrow gauge office car with a southeastern heritage still in existence.

Unrestored equipment is kept at the museum's shops a few miles west up the railroad between Conover and Hickory, NC, and in the field across the street from the Museum. Recently several Rio Grande cars from the Lindsay Ashby collection have been purchased to provide trucks and other parts for the restorations.

Our Visit

We pulled into the station and started to look around. The museum was closed but the grounds were open.

The Newton station. We walked all the tracks to the covered part of the museum.

Unknown wooden caboose.

ET&WNC box car 434.

Virginia-Carolina 2-6-0 50.

Carolina & North-Western box car 401.

ET&WNC box car 434.

ET&WNC gang motorcar/railbus 2.

Clinchfield Railroad caboose. I then walked across the street.

A caboose minus its wheels.

A tank car and box car minus their wheels.

These two cars came from Colorado.

Museum views.

One last view of the Newton Station. We said our goodbyes to David and then followed him back to Interstate 40 with him heading to Winston-Salem and us heading to Spencer, North Carolina and the next stop on the trip.