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Remember the ‘Fallen Flags’ at Carter Railroad Museum Heritage Day

Contributed • Dec 21, 2018 at 4:16 PM

Models of America’s former signature railroads will be on display during Heritage Day on Saturday, Dec. 29, at the George L. Carter Railroad Museum located on the campus of East Tennessee State University.

Today’s super railroads were spawned by the consolidation of numerous smaller firms and had signature identities such as unique logos, memorable slogans and colorful paint schemes.

This was particularly evident in the 1940-60 era as diesel power rapidly gained acceptance. These rails remain iconic and instantly identifiable to most enthusiast. “Santa Fe — All the Way,” “Southern Serves the South,” “Louisville & Nashville the Old Reliable” and others, resound from history even today. They disappeared as consolidation efforts accelerated in the 1960s.

“The Wabash’s slogan “Follow the Flag” has been stated as the origin of the term, ‘Fallen Flag,’” notes Geoff Stunkard, Heritage Days coordinator. “Fans of railroading also note that if the flag were removed from a locomotive, its run was complete. Many enthusiasts who were not even born yet consider that simpler time as a wonderful epoch in American railroading.”

Thanks to the efforts of the Mountain Empire Model Railroad club volunteers, some of these trains will be operating on the museum’s 24x44 foot HO scale layout.

Other examples will be shown in the museum’s multiple display cases, and trains will be running on the N scale and HOn3 dioramas as well. The latter is of East Tennessee’s own fallen flag, the ET&WNC “Tweetsie” line, nationally renowned for its detailed accuracy.

Located in the Campus Center Building at ETSU, the Carter Railroad Museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes model railroad layouts, a children’s activity room and ongoing programs. Heritage Day is held the last Saturday of each month. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome.

The museum is also seeking artifacts for its displays, including the newest addition dedicated to the “Tweetsie” line, the ET&WNC, which will be open for guided tours during event days.

In addition to the displays, there is a growing research library, and an oral history archive is being established as part of the museum’s programs. For more information, visit www.etsu.edu/railroad.

Members of the George L. Carter Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and MEMRR coordinate the exhibits. For more information, visit www.memrr.org or www.glcarternrhs.com.

The Carter Railroad Museum can be identified by a flashing railroad-crossing signal at the back entrance to the Campus Center Building. Visitors should enter ETSU’s campus from State of Franklin Road onto Jack Vest Drive and continue east toward 176 Ross Drive, adjacent to the flashing RR crossing sign.

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