Railroad Facility in North Carolina to Receive an Honor From ASME

NEW YORK, March 16, 2011 – The Spencer Shops Roundhouse and Turntable on the site of the North Carolina Transportation Museum, which the Southern Railway built in 1924 to repair steam locomotives, will be named an ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark at a special ceremony on March 19, in Spencer.

At the ceremony set for 2:00 p.m. at the North Carolina Transportation Museum, the New York-based American Society of Mechanical Engineers will present a bronze plaque to the museum in recognition of the contribution of the Spencer facility to the progress of American railroading and evolution of mechanical engineering.

The Spencer facility is one of the few remaining early 20th century railroad locomotive repair shops in the United States. Consisting of a massive erecting shop, 100-foot turntable and roundhouse equipped with 37 individual stalls, Spencer served as the main shop on the Southern Railway’s Eastern Lines, employing more than 3,000 people during peak periods.

The turntable at Spencer sits on a circular rail set in the floor of a concrete pit. Two 25-horsepower electric motors rotated the system 360 degrees on a center spindle, lining up the locomotive with straight sections of track leading into the stalls of the roundhouse, where maintenance and repairs ranging from running gear adjustments to brake work were performed.

A sprawling rail yard, the Spencer facility also included a machine shop where train parts were forged, as well as various administrative and office buildings.

The Spencer Shops Roundhouse and Turntable served the Southern Railway during the nation’s heyday of the steam-powered locomotive, and was modified and expanded from 1948 to 1950 to accommodate the company’s investment in diesel engines. The complex was donated to the State of North Carolina in 1979, at which time the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources proposed a restoration project including the creation of a museum to focus on the state’s rich transportation history.

The roundhouse and turntable were refurbished and opened to the public in 1996, allowing local railroad history to continue into the future.

The nearly 250 ASME landmarks – ranging from mills and steam engines to industrial processes and space rockets – represent progress in the evolution of mechanical engineering and significance to society in general. Through its Landmarks Program, ASME encourages the preservation of the physical remains of historically important works.

About ASME
ASME helps the global engineering community develop solutions to real world challenges. Founded in 1880 as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that enables collaboration, knowledge sharing and skill development across all engineering disciplines, while promoting the vital role of the engineer in society. ASME codes and standards, publications, conferences, continuing education and professional development programs provide a foundation for advancing technical knowledge and a safer world.

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ASME Contact: John Varrasi
varrasij@asme.org or 212.591.8158