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Salisbury, N.C., located in the central Piedmont of the Tar Heel state, is well-known in the South for constant rail activity. The former Southern Railway Washington, D.C.-Atlanta main line, now a key Norfolk Southern mainline route, rolls through downtown Salisbury with 25-30 trains every 24 hours. The majority of Charlotte District mainline trains are manifests, intermodals, and unit coal trains. Salisbury also hosts eight daily Amtrak trains, the Crescent, the Carolinian, and two Piedmont trains. The Asheville District, also known as the S-line, stretches west from the Salisbury wye to Asheville, N.C., and sees four to six trains per day. The Asheville District also hosts daily locals and runs grain trains as needed.
The Salisbury wye off North Lee Street is the most popular train-watching spot in Salisbury among railfans, but be careful not to trespass on railroad property as you are surrounded by busy mainline tracks on all sides. Just south of the wye is the Salisbury depot, a restored Frank Milburn-designed Spanish Mission-style jewel from 1908. A gravel parking lot for a local antique shop, the Salisbury Emporium off East Kerr Street, is a great spot to catch southbounds. Another great location nearby is Fulton Street, west of the wye on the S-line. It provides a large public parking lot and it is a great place to catch trains coming off or awaiting permission onto the Charlotte District.
NS’s Spencer Yard in Linwood, N.C., is six miles to the north and serves as the termination and origination point for all the manifest freight through Salisbury and as a crew change point for intermodal traffic. Built by Southern Railway in 1979, the yard at Linwood replaced the old Spencer yard that dated to 1896, which is used for coal and grain train staging, as well as two weekday local industry jobs called the Salisbury and Yadkin switchers. The southern tip of the old Spencer yard can be viewed from the 11th Street grade crossing.
NS road channel: 160.950, NS dispatcher to train channel: 160.245, NS train to dispatcher channel: 160.830; North Carolina Transportation Museum: 160.695.
FOR YOUR FAMILY
Historic downtown Salisbury offers shops, ice cream parlors, cafes, and art galleries. Be sure to try pork barbecue and Cheerwine soft drink.
The North Carolina Transportation Museum is in Spencer, adjacent to Salisbury, and features 14 structures, including a 37-stall roundhouse and 600-foot-long backshop that were part of the steam repair center. It also offers a 25-minute train ride and rolling stock displays. Details: 704-636-2889 or www.nctrans.org