Virginia Museum of Transportation, Roanoke, Virginia, A History of How People ``Got Around'' in Virginia
In 1963, the Roanoke Transportation Museum opened its doors for the first time. At that time, the key exhibits included a United States Army rocket and a J class locomotive that had been donated by Norfolk & Western Railway.
As the museum grew, other key artifacts outlining the history of transportation were added including a horse-drawn hearse and other transportation treasures. Unfortunately, a flood in 1985 destroyed most of the collection and did much damage to the museum itself.
Six months later, the museum reopened in a different location and under a new name: The Virginia Museum of Transportation. The name change came as a result of being named Virginia's official transportation museum by the state's general assembly.
Since it's reopening in 1986, the museum has continually added to its collections. The impressive railroad collection still includes the J class locomotive that was part of the original collection and now also includes a Norfolk & Western A class, a Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive, a Virginian Railway EL-C electric locomotive, the last remaining steam locomotive from the Virginian Railway and more than 50 other pieces of railway transportation history.
Below are some examples of the permanent exhibits included in the railroad portion of the museum.
African American Heritage on the Norfolk and Western Railroad: 1930-1970
This exhibit includes audio clips of interviews, photographs and other items relating to the many African-Americans who worked for the railroad.
This exhibit is a replica of a train depot like one would have found in a small 1930's town. Many authentic artifacts are on display including telegraph equipment and freight scales.
The automobile collection features the permanent exhibit titled "From Mud to Mobility: A History of the Virginia Department of Transportation.'' The floor in this section of the museum is in keeping with the theme and as visitors explore the exhibit they go from walking on a dirt road to an interstate highway. Replicas of period billboards are also displayed as are several fine examples of automobiles from throughout the decades.
The museum gets mixed reviews from visitors. Some say that there is not much to see, while others seemed to enjoy their visit. Even those who said it wasn't worth the trip found something interesting, though. One visitor from Maryland said, "The only exhibits it had worth seeing were the J and A class locomotives. The other railroad cars were run down...They did say they were making improvements.''
Since that visitor wrote his review, many additions have been made to the museum's collections. The car collection now includes some rare models such as the 1932 Ford Model B Closed Cab Pickup and the 1948 Packard Limousine. Other cars in the collection include a 1957 DeSoto, 2 Studebakers and even a fine example of a Connestoga covered wagon.
The museum continues to grow and change so it is a good idea to check for current exhibits and schedules when planning your visit.
Read about other Roanoke tourist attractions:
- Mill Mountain Zoo, Roanoke, Virginia, A Small Zoo with Great Animals and Great Views
- Valley View Mall, Roanoke, Virginia, Shopping, Dining and Movies
- Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour, Beautiful Lakefront Homes Open Their Doors for Charity
- Tanglewood Mall - Roanoke, VA - a mall that has changed with the times
Review, comment, or add new information about this topic:
Discuss this city on our hugely popular Virginia forum
|Business Search - 14 Million verified businesses|