George L. Carter Railroad Museum - East Tennessee State University

On November 16, 2007, the George L. Carter Railroad Museum was dedicated at East Tennessee State University by ETSU President Paul Stanton with a large, enthusiastic crowd in attendance. Named in honor of George Lafayette Carter, (1857 - 1936) the founder of the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad, Carter is also recognized as the founding father of ETSU by donating the land for the campus to the State of Tennessee. The museum hosts three historic model railway layouts and was developed via the work efforts of the Mountain Empire Modular Railroaders. The exhibit continues the organizational effort toward creating a permanent collection and museum dedicated to the railway history of the Johnson City area. Several years in the making, the railway exhibits had previously been hosted by the Carroll Reece Museum at ETSU and the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site.

Three model railway layouts are in the museum: a G (large) scale layout (obtained by former Johnson City Mayor Tom McKee) measures 12.5 feet by 12.5 feet; a 44-feet-by-24-feet HO scale layout owned by members of the modular club and a 23-feet-by-12-feet N (smaller) scale layout donated by Ms. Marian Bankus, of Knoxville, make up the permanent display.

“The N layout was sort of like building a boat in a basement,” said Dr. Fred Alsop of the ETSU Biology Department and a member of the modular railroad group. “It wasn't meant to be moved and was almost completed before Mr. Bankus died.”

The HO modular layout built by the Modular Railroaders club is owned in portable sections by each of its members. ETSU President Dr. Paul Stanton saw this layout and became an enthusiastic supporter of obtaining a permanent home for a railway museum on the ETSU campus in tribute to George L. Carter. At any given time you may see any or all of Johnson City's three legendary railroads, the ET&WNC (Tweetsie), the Clinchfield, or the Southern in operation on the HO scale layout.

Below are photos of the collection and the grand opening events. The Museum is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and a map to the museum is found here.

Video Bio of George L. Carter
Ned Irwin Book: George L. Carter
  Dr. Fred Alsop with ETSU President Dr. Paul Stanton

Photos of the Bankus Layout
Fred Alsop working on the layout

Some Assembly Required!
"The Bankus model was reassembled using photos of the original layout in Knoxville." "Months of work were required to move and assemble the 3 large layouts at the new museum." "An example of the countless boxes ready for re-assembly at the museum."

Ned Irwin lecture on George L. Carter

Fred Alsop introduces Dr. Stanton
Dr. Paul Stanton
"Friday morning several railroad historians gave insight into the rail history of the Johnson City area. Ned Irwin featured the Life and Times of George L. Carter." "Prior to touring the new railroad museum, the Bankus family, descendents of George L. Carter and others were recognized by Dr. Alsop and President Stanton." "Dr. Stanton thanked persons involved with creating the exhibits and paid tribute to university founder George L. Carter. Dr. Stanton also expressed his lifelong interest in trains. "

Rockytop & Western Railroad

Refreshments at the event

Media Coverage for the Event
"Dick Conger with the Rockytop & Western Railroad ." "This cake was delicious and
almost too pretty to eat."
"The Carter Museum dedication was covered by all local media."
Mark Milbourne with Ken Marsh  

Vintage Advertising
Gary Cameron with Mrs. Bankus
"Ken Marsh authored the fabulous book, Clinchfield in Color. Mark Milbourne has worked to restore the historic railroad at Doe River Gorge. "
"Years ago barns were painted with ads such as this one for Mail Pouch Tobacco. The most frequent of all were the See Rock City signs all over the south."
"Gary Cameron has been instrumental in preserving the area's railroad history and has established the Southeastern Train Center in Downtown Johnson City."

Tweetsie Railroad Men

"Silverton Station"

Tom and Kim McKee
"Mike Hardin, Johnny Graybeal, Ken Riddle, and Mark Milbourne represent the ET&WNC Historical Society." "In summer 2007, I rode the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado. It looks like the Silverton Station has made its way into the Blue Ridge Mountains"
"Former Johnson City Mayor Tom McKee obtained the fabulous G-Scale layout for the Carter Museum."
Authentic Scale Layouts

Vintage green paint scheme of the Southern Railroad

Coal mining operation at Elkhorn City
"The model displays include amazing authenticity including weathering of buildings and you can see a different design feature each time you view a portion of the layout." "The attractive green paint scheme of the Southern Railroad is evident throughout the exhibit." "Members of the Mountain Empire Modular Railroaders each customized a four-foot section to an individual theme then integrated them all to form the seamless exhibit."

Display Case with
Clinchfield Memorabilia

Clinchfield Coal Train

Ken and Norma Riddle with
Mike Hardin

"In addition to the model layouts, several display cases house regional and national railway memorabilia. "This view showing a Clinchfield coal train shows the length of the HO Scale layout by the Mountain Empire Modular Railroaders." "Here is an all-star cast. Norma Myers Riddle, Director of ETSU's Archives of Appalachia is with noted railroad historian and husband Ken and Mike Hardin. Mike is the great grandson of ET&WNC President George Hardin.

Guests from Tweetsie Country

Tunnels and Bridges

Saw Mill
"Dr. Dave Spiceland from NCAA D-IA Football National Champion Appalachian State University and Tim Smith, Tweetsie Railroad Engineer." "The HO-Scale layout has several realistic tunnels, viaducts and bridges." "Jim Pahris with the G-scale layout."

Rockytop & Western Railroad

Train Wreck!

Club members with Dr. Stanton
"The Rockytop & Western Railroad, created by Howard Bankus, is one of the permanent exhibits at the museum." "At 2:52 PM on March 8, 2008 an Eastbound Clinchfield freight train passed through a non operating signal which resulted in a collision with a
Westbound Clinchfield coal train. Fortunately there were no injuries."
"When visiting the ETSU campus, check out the railroad museum. Consider joining the Mountain Empire Modular Railroaders and take part in the fun.

ETSU Express

New York Times - September 5, 1907


 Tribute to George L. Carter ****************

Mayor Johnson's notes:
"George Lafayette Carter Day was proclaimed by Mayor Henry Johnson of Johnson's Depot, TN for November 16, 2007."
"The George L. Carter Museum features many railway paintings by noted local artist Ted Laws ."
"David Goad contributed many items on George L. Carter and his railroad-coal mining empire in Coalwood, West Virginia."
"George L. Carter was known as the Empire Builder of Appalachia for his decades of mining, railroad, and new town development ventures."
George L. Carter
"Below are a few of George L. Carter's investments in Johnson City, Tennessee:"
Ashe Street Post Office
Model Mill (General Mills)
Carter Residence
(Present ETSU Campus)

Historic Marker at ETSU Campus recognizing George L. Carter.
The Railroads of Johnson City by Johnny Graybeal

"For more information on the railroad history of Johnson City, this new book by Johnny Graybeal is a vital addition to any collection."


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