The North Carolina Railroad Museum captivates young and old children alike

Located in the heart of central North Carolina along the Wake and Chatham county line, just thirty minutes south of Raleigh, is the Railroad Museum of North Carolina/New Hope Valley Railroad. Featuring steam and diesel locomotives, as well as various carriages, flatcars and the like, the museum/railroad has been entertaining train fans at its rural Bonsal location since 1981. Take a trip down the old railroad with me and experience a bit of American train history!

Since I was a child I have fallen in love with trains: steam engines, diesel, bullet trains and even subways. My family feels the same; we marvel at the sight of a steam locomotive whistling and puffing its way rattling along the tracks, imagining that we, too, are taking a journey through this great nation of ours.

This particular rolling museum will excite train buffs for the variety of equipment available, as well as the rides that are available to the general public. In fact, when we visited the museum recently, the grounds were full as walk days are held only on the first Sunday of the month. [from May through November with special Halloween and Christmas season rides as well]. Five excursions are carried out each day of the trip; Visitors are encouraged to arrive early for the ride they wish to take.

Pulled by a robust General Electric diesel locomotive [built in the early 1940s], the hour-long train journey allows passengers to travel from Bonsal to New Hill and back. The 6.5-mile track was purchased from the venerable Southern Railway Company and is now used exclusively by the museum.

Enthusiasts sit in one of two comfortable open passenger cars that are, in fact, converted flatcars. On a recent Sunday, the museum pulled out one of the aforementioned diesels and added a pair of red, wood-sided cabooses and a brown baggage wagon to complete the ensemble.

On the extensive museum grounds is a US Army Transportation Corps tool cart that currently houses the museum’s gift shop and exhibits. Several other wagons and a crane auxiliary arm are also at the location; some are being carefully restored while others are in active use. The museum’s steam locomotive is currently in limited use, but plans are to start using it on excursions more frequently.

The railway museum has a dedicated group of volunteers. [Saturdays are workdays and skilled volunteers are welcome]. Train travel prices are reasonable, and passengers know the fares are helping to restore a bit of North Carolina’s rail history while reviving it at the same time.

A “G” scale model garden railway is on site along with a barbecue restaurant and adjoining picnic area. There is plenty of parking on the premises as well.

Yes, there is certainly a lot to see and do while visiting the Railroad Museum of North Carolina/New Hope Valley Railroad in Bonsal, North Carolina — stop by soon and you’ll hear the driver announce “all aboard!”

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