Friday, August 20, 2021

North Carolina Transportation Museum unveils exhibit addition 'The Life of a Brakeman'

Aug 20, 2021

The North Carolina Transportation Museum is pleased to announce an update to the “How the West Was Won” exhibit, located in the Bob Julian Roundhouse.

Focusing on the story of Black Mountain, N.C. resident and longtime Southern Railway employee George Winslow Whittington, “The Life of a Brakeman” explains how the difficult job of brakeman changed from the era of steam to diesel locomotives. Discover the story of George Winslow Whittington, who rode the rails of Southern Railways’ Asheville Division as brakeman from 1926 to his retirement from that same role in 1963. Whittington exemplified the strong and courageous brakemen who faced many challenges so that trains could arrive to their destinations safely, a job made even more difficult by Whittington’s status as a Black man during segregation.

“The Life of a Brakeman” was created with the content curation aid of Regina Lynch-Hudson, the granddaughter of George Winslow Whittington, and contributions by his son Les Whittington, as well as other descendants.

“The Life of a Brakeman” features an interactive brake wheel allowing visitors to experience how brakes were, and still are, set on trains. A small selection of artifacts from the Museum’s collection is on display, connecting to brakemen and to Whittington himself. A short video, provided by Regina Lynch-Hudson about the life of George Winslow Whittington, will also accompany “The Life of a Brakeman.”

Opening Saturday, Aug. 28, this is a permanent addition to the exhibits at the N. C. Transportation Museum, located at 1 Samuel Spencer Dr, just five minutes off I-85 at Exit 79 in Spencer, N.C., and about an hour from Charlotte, Greensboro, or Winston-Salem. To plan a visit, call (704) 636- 2889 or visit

About the N.C. Transportation Museum
The N.C. Transportation Museum is home to the largest remaining operational roundhouse in North America, and numerous structures that represent what was once Southern Railway’s largest steam locomotive repair facility in the southeast. The museum is part of the Division of Historic Sites and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Learn more at

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