Hamlet railroad museums among NC’s ‘best-kept secrets’

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — Tim Nevinger said the National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame is comfortable welcoming 2,000 to 3,000 visitors each year.

“We’re glad to get that,” said Nevinger, museum president, ” but we certainly would love to have more than that.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Xzavier Spaine, 3, of Hamlet, plays with a toy train set inside the Hamlet Visitors Center with new friend Madison McPherson, 4, of Ellerbe in May during National Train Day.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Xzavier Spaine, 3, of Hamlet, plays with a toy train set inside the Hamlet Visitors Center with new friend Madison McPherson, 4, of Ellerbe in May during National Train Day.

The odds of that happening greatly improved in the past 48 hours after the News & Observer rated that museum, and the Hamlet Depot & Museums as being among North Carolina’s “Best-Kept Secrets” written by reporter Sarah Nagem. The news outlet is working on a series of the top 100 “best-kept secrets” across North Carolina. The series concludes on Labor Day.

Other nearby attractions making this most recent list include the Town Creek Indian Mound near Mount Gilead, only 1.5 miles from the Richmond County line, and the Pee Dee Wildlife Refuge across the Pee Dee River in Anson County.

The recognition, Nevinger said, “is long overdue, as far as I’m concerned,” he said of the 38-year-old museum. “I was excited when (Nagem) said we were going to be in there.”

Nevinger said there’s a natural and mutually beneficial relationship between the National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame and the Hamlet Depot and Museums.

“It’s a win-win-win situation,” Nevinger said of the relationship between the two museums and the people of Hamlet and Richmond County.

Miranda Chavis, manager of the Hamlet Depot and Museums, said she was pleased Hamlet was recognized among the many “incredible facilities and cultural assets” in Richmond County.

“The fact that they chose us was a real honor,” Chavis said.

Chavis said the recognition will likely bring increased awareness and visitation from across the region. Just as important, however, are the locals who haven’t yet been inside to see what the facilities have to offer.

“We get a lot of people form the community but at the same time, it’s kind of like those people who live at the beach,” Chavis said. “If you live at the beach, you never go there. We’re so used to seeing the trains … sometimes we forget just how special the trains are. It’s sometimes really nice to remind our community about what makes us special. It’s really nice when other people see it.”

The National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame, located at 120 E. Spring St., is open each Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made to tour the museum at other times by calling 910-280-9253.

The Hamlet Depot and Museums are located at 2 Main St. and are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday. Questions should be directed to 910-582-0603.

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