North Carolina Museum Adds Alco, Diner to Collection

Alexander Alco S3 6 poses at the Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum in Newton, N.C. this spring. Photo by M.T. Burkhart

North Carolina Museum Adds Alco, Diner to Collection

By M.T. Burkhart

The Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum in Newton, N.C. has expanded its collection significantly over the past six months, with the addition of Alexander Railroad Alco S3 6 and, just last week, a former Amtrak heritage diner.

The museum, jointly operated by the Newton Depot Authority and the Alexander Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society, is perhaps best known for its collection of local narrow-gauge freight and passenger cars as well as Virginia-Carolina 2-6-0 50. Also protected at the museum is Carolina & North-Western 401, a boxcar built for the Lawndale, and Tweetsie boxcar 434. Other historic narrow gauge cars are in the museum’s shop.

Late last year, Alexander Railroad donated the Alco, which had been stored in the line’s engine house for a few years. Before the locomotive came to the museum, it was given a fresh coat of green and yellow paint and a mechanical once-over. Alexander runs not far from the museum, on about 18 miles between Statesville and Taylorsville. It began operations in 1946 and today runs with EMD switchers and a GE 44-tonner. Sister Alexander Alco S3 7 was acquired by the Craggy Mountain Line in Asheville, N.C. and is painted in Southern colors.

The restored Southern Railway depot, dating from 1924, houses a museum as well as a model railroad and meeting space. A covered display space was built a few years ago and features dual-gauge track, with a short stretch constructed so the Alco, which is fully operational, can occasionally stretch its legs.

Former Amtrak heritage diner 8504, named the “Silver Restaurant,” was delivered by Norfolk Southern to the museum’s interchange on April 30. Built in 1948 as CB&Q number 195 for California Zephyr service, the museum plans to use the diner as it was intended.

“We plan to restore this car so food can be served and people can enjoy the experience just as so many did in the car’s previous life,” officials with the museum said. “We’re still working out details for the final product.”

While there aren’t any events on the docket at the moment due to COVID-19 restrictions, visitors can view the outdoor displays – while keeping a safe social distance.

This article was posted on: May 7, 2020