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 Post subject: "Letter to the Editor" - 2 July article on
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 1998 3:33 am 

Dear Bob:<p>I read your "article" (more like an opinion) on Spencer Shops, and would like to comment on a few points. Now I should state I have no relation to the North Carolina Transportation Museum or the Foundation. But I have been to Spencer many times over the last 18 years, and I know the place a little better than you.<p>First, NCTM is not a railroad museum - it's a transportation museum. It's true that site is a former railroad shop, but the exhibits there are not limited to railroading. In fact, the automobile exhibit is as fascinating and well-done as the roundhouse in my opinion. They do cover a lot of territory, and they do it pretty well.<p>The roundhouse is truly a great achievement - but not because it recalls some idealized past. The exhibits such as the workers' locker room really brings out the sometimes-unpleasant truth about working for a railroad: that there was racism, that working for Southern was not the utopia you'd like to believe it was. That's not mist in your eyes, Bob - that's smoke from dozens of locomotives, smoke that stings the eyes and irritates the asthmatic's lungs.<p>The backshop project is a fine example of adaptive reuse. Apparently you find trucking, aviation, and race cars unworthy of being interpreted in a railroad environment - you're welcome to your opinion. But North Carolina is the spiritual home of stock-car racing, one of the fastest-growing spectator sports in the US today. I'm not a fan, but I can sure understand the mass appeal of a Richard Petty exhibit, and the money it will bring into the museum. (Those visitors will also be exposed to the railroad exhibits as well.)<p>As to the proposal that one of today's steam overhaul corporations set up shop there, I can see a number of practical problems. First, none of these operations have a permanent shop due to the overheads involved and the non-geographic nature of their business. It is far more cost-effective to hire space and labor in a nearby shop than to haul a locomotive cross-country for overhaul. <p>Your reference to Colonial Williamsburg is interesting. I too find Williamsburg a great example. But it isn't authentic - Rockefeller was not all that keen on authenticity, and it was only after Williamsburg became commercially successful that historical accuracy became a priority.<p>Bob, next time you editorialize on the legitimacy of a fine museum, I believe you owe it to yourself to get some first-hand knowledge. As it is your "article" is little more than long-distance woolgathering. Ashley Wilkes would be proud of you - but the world belongs to Rhett Butler.<p>JAC<br>


  
 
 Post subject: sorry, folks, you can't go home again
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 1998 3:58 am 

i too read your "article" after a friend of mine <br>pointed it out to me; as a long-time volunteer at <br>spencer, i can tell you this subject has been <br>debated for a long time ago; as a dyed in the <br>wool lover of railroads, especially NC, i can <br>tell you that nothing planned for the back shop <br>takes away from the railroad side of spencer; <br> shy of being a sterile exhibit, the roundhouse <br>is quite a lively place; coal smoke drifts <br>through the building; engines come and go on the <br>turntable; people walk along the gallery and view <br>our voluneers, staff and contractors at work on <br>engines and cars; yes, they smell, hear and see <br>the actual work; <br> southern steam engines? as one of the folks <br>invovled in returning SR 2-8-0 542 to spencer, i <br>can tell you it ain't an easy task and the other <br>engines ain't "sitting there waiting for someone <br>to ask for them."<br> as for the back shop, it will have a corner <br>devoted to "what once was" featuring the crane <br>and a steam engine in a setting to give visitors <br>a glimpse of what happened there; but let me ask <br>you this and think about it before you respond: <br>how many people do you think are going to line up <br>to see a back shop full of lathes, drill presses, <br>etc.? you and i would, but the public doesn't <br>want to see that stuff unless it's "authentic" <br>like it is at EBT or the sierra; <br> the battle over a railroad museum vs. a <br>transportation museum was settled 22 years ago; <br>spencer will always be heavy on railroads for <br>natural reasons; the back shop is an excellent <br>adaptive reuse that can tell the whole story; it <br>will broaden the constituency and in the end <br>strengthen ALL of the property, the railroad side <br>as well; <br> so, when it comes to the back shop, quit <br>trying to "go home again"; north carolina's <br>thomas wolfe told us a long time ago, it's just <br>not possible; now let's get on with what is! <br>



jwrinn@charlotte.com


  
 
 Post subject: Underestimating the public Re: sorry, folks, you can't go ho
PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 1998 3:16 pm 

Jim Wrinn worte:<br>>>how many people do you think are going to line >>up to see a back shop full of lathes, drill >>presses, etc.? you and i would, but the public >>doesn't want to see that stuff unless it's >>"authentic" <p>Jim,<p>The exact opposite is ture. We found out early on at Steamtown that Joe Public DOES want to see the oily rags and tools. And, as usualy, Joe could care less about authentic. You have it backwards. You and I want authentic, the public just wants to see it.<p>We had loads of people (and Steamtown still does) who wanted to see the shops. And they didn't care that they were seeign Canadian steam engines being rebuilt in a Lcakwanna diesel shop.<p>People love machines.<p>Don't ruin Spencer's integrity. Put some tools in that building and maybe someday it will house the engine in the artist's rendering... which looks an awful lot like #1218. I expect she will be in Steamtown, with any luck, as it would be nice to see it run.<p>Rob<br>


  
 
 Post subject: Sorry for the typosRe: Underestimating the public Re: sorry,
PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 1998 3:17 pm 

To all,<p>Sorry for not proofing that last post. Wow!<p>Rob<p><br><br>


  
 
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