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North Carolina Railway Museum seeks funds to save 10 railcars

By | March 19, 2021

Nearly $100,000 needed to prevent scrapping of equipment

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Two cabooses
Two cabooses
The North Carolina Railway Museum is seeking funds to save 10 railcars, including these two cabooses. (North Carolina Railway Museum)

BONSAL, N.C. — The North Carolina Railway Museum is seeking funds to rescue 10 railcars from a disconnected siding at a nuclear power plant near New Hill, N.C., for eventual use on the museum’s New Hope Valley Railway.

Nearly $100,000 must be raised to save the cars, which include two cabooses being donated by Duke Energy, operator of the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant. Those cabooses have features such as kitchens, bathrooms, air conditing, and electrical generators. The museum currently owns no other equipment with these features, and believes these cars could offer a unique riding experience.

“Donations and funds generated from rides enable our volunteers to preserve railroad history and improve the railway,” Tom Hutchinson, New Hope Valley Railway marketing representative, said in a press release. “Our revenue significantly decreased last year after canceling most of our ride season due to the pandemic, so we’re seeking donations to help save these unique pieces of North Carolina railroad history.”

More information about the effort and ways to contribute are available here. Sponsor-level incentives for larger donations range from 10 free train tickets to a private charter train ride day with 12 Operate-a-Loco sessions.

2 thoughts on “North Carolina Railway Museum seeks funds to save 10 railcars

  1. Hi – HELP US “SAVE THE 10”! Here are some facts about this whole situation. I am a volunteer with the all volunteer, non-profit North Carolina Railway Museum that is trying to save these 10 railroad cars. I am actually the one leading this whole effort. Yes — back in the mid to late 1990s when we were donated the three passenger cars and box car, our museum was without (as still today) a connection to the CSX line that passes our property (that switch had been torn up years prior by the Southern Railway from who we acquired our line in 1983 to save it from being abandoned). So we were able to get a temporary OK to store our cars on the Shearon Harris siding which connected to the CSX line just opposite our property. We had friends at that time working at the nuclear power plant and with all good intentions by everyone, we expected to get these cars moved out of the plant to another siding a couple 100 yards down the CSX at another company’s siding where the museum had lifted cars to move a very short distance to our landlocked railroad museum. During these few years, we had access to the cars despite being at a nuclear power plant, but our very cash constrained non-profit museum didn’t have even the couple $10K to move our four cars to this other siding less than 1/4 mile from our property. Requiring cranes on both ends of the move. But then 9-11 happened. And we lost any access to our cars inside the nuclear power plant. There was a time when guys in dark uniforms and black rifles visited our property to determine the risk our landlocked railroad museum and line represented to the nuclear power plant just across the CSX from our property. In fall 2019, we observed the CSX disconnecting the siding along our property that went down to the Shearon Harris power plant. We immediately acted to try and find out from Shearon Harris what was going on and how can we recover our 4 cars before the switch is torn up. Do you realize how hard it is to call someone at a nuclear power plant? Impossible. We had to call Duke Energy corporate office in Charlotte and ask for help with a contact at the power plant. Finally we made a connection. By then CSX had completely removed the siding, and there was no longer any chance we could move our 4 cars out to another locations for recovery. As a result of all this, we did finally mange to get permission to enter the Shearon Harris inner plant security zone to inspect our 4 cars (first time in almost 20 years). While there, a few old timers at the power plant who were advocates to letting us park our cars on plant property, were very helpful showing us around to see our cars, and then asking us IF we would be interested in the 6 ex Carolina Light and Power nuclear fuel train cars. While the flat cars are in excellent condition and could be converted to additional excursion train cars on our museum line (the New Hope Valley Railway), the two cabooses were immaculate! Not only were they equipped with lots of creature comforts for transporting utility personnel with restrooms, AC, kitchen, microwaves, etc. they also featured rather unique “machine gun nests” in the extended width cupolas. That’s where the machine gun equipped NC Hwy Patrol security team would sit to protect these trains. Heck we even found in one of the refrigerators a half eaten package of Fig Newtons that apparently the last crew left when the train arrived and they locked it up. They really hadn’t aged at all. (Think about that next time you eat a Fig Newton!) These cars are a time warp. And were saved from whatever vandalization they may have suffered for a decade or more because they were safely protected within a nuclear power plant. These cars were all intended by Duke Energy to be scrapped with the disconnect of the siding by CSX. No advance notice of this disconnection was ever relayed to us by CSX or Duke Energy. Honestly, Duke Energy corporate had probably no idea our museum’s four cars were even on the plant property. But this was the situation. We started to work on a plan to move all 10 cars out of the plant over 5 miles of public roads to our museum in early 2020. See the link in the article above to our museum’s website for more info about these 10 cars. But as soon as we started to bring in contractors to give us estimates to move our 4 cars and the 6 ex nuclear fuel train cars out, COVID hit. And we were sidelined until Nov 2020 when we could enter the plant again. In the meantime. our non profit North Carolina Railway Museum’s balance sheet was decimated by COVID, we had all the funds needed to move these 10 cars at the beginning of 2020. By the end of 2020 with very few train ride ticket sales during the year because of shut downs, but lots of expenses to maintain our museum and railroad line, our reserve funds disappeared. We are now up against a fund raising and “move the cars deadline” by Duke Energy. Any funds we can raise to our $100K goal will make all the difference. We are almost up to $60K in the last month or so, but new donations are coming in at a much slower pace. It was nice to see this post today pn We have a lot of supporters. IF any of you seeing my post could help out, please go to our Facebook page and make a donation. FB charges us nothing for collecting donations on FB. It is a good deal and makes sure 100% of your donation gets to us to help us save these 10 railroad cars. Here is a link to our FB Page. OR just use the link in the article above to go to our website for a connection there to give a donation, too. In advance, THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!

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