Family & Pets

Best Railroad Experiences Near Charlotte For Kids

June 28, 2013 8:00 AM

View Comments
The first railroad in North Carolina was called the Experimental Railroad. The cars were drawn by horses, not steam. That was back in 1833. It was less than two miles long, and its purpose was to carry rock used to build the state capitol in Raleigh. Today, there are more than 3,684 miles of track across North Carolina. For the train enthusiast, there are clubs serving the Charlotte area, like the Piedmont and Western Railroad Club or the Central Carolina NScalers. Keep the kids learning during summer months with curriculum like “Thomas The Train” by Grace Bound Books or a train unit study by Amanda Bennett. Wrap it up with a nearby train ride or museum visit. Check out these ideas for railroad experiences in the Charlotte area.

Charlotte Trolley Powerhouse 

1507 Camden Road
Charlotte, NC 28203
(704) 375-0850

The Charlotte Trolley Powerhouse Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the area streetcars. Three streetcars were upgraded and integrated into 2.1 miles of Charlotte’s transportation corridor, including uptown to Dilworth. Trolley #1, the little red car, arrived on the streets in the Queen City in 1989. Back in 1914, it ran the streets near Athens, Greece as a convertible. Trolley #85 had a prior life as a diner and concession stand near Huntersville during the 1940s. Then, there’s #17. It was top of the line back in the day — mahogany wood interior and windows with hardwood floors. It operated on the streets in Asheville.

Steam Locomotive At Freedom Park
1900 East Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 432-4280

The central park of Charlotte is Freedom Park. On display is one of the last steam locomotives used in this region. The Gainesville Midland 301 was built by Baldwin in 1920. The Seaboard Airline Railroad Company presented it to Charlotte in 1959. The cabin is open for kids to explore and dream. The park is 98 acres of two playgrounds, walking trails and paths, a lake, a concession stand and five outdoor shelters with grills.

trainscbsaaaa Best Railroad Experiences Near Charlotte For Kids

Train rails in Charlotte (Credit, Catherine Lash)

L&C Railway Railroad Museum
512 S. Main St.
Lancaster, SC 29721
(803) 286-2100

The L&C Railway is 42 miles from Charlotte and the closest train ride. The Lancaster & Chester Springmaid Line began back in 1873. The 59+ miles of track services two to three trains per day. The museum features a scale model replica, hundreds of photos and artifacts from its origin to present day. Luxury charters are available for business trips, vacations, family reunions and more. It’s like a rolling hotel on wheels, featuring gourmet meals and sleeping quarters with full bath facilities.

Related: Best Places To Buy Gifts For Grads In Charlotte

trainscbsbbb Best Railroad Experiences Near Charlotte For Kids

Caboose (Credit, Catherine Lash)

North Carolina Transportation Museum
411 S. Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC 28159
(704) 636-2889

Visit the North Carolina Transportation Museum for a fantastic train experience. It’s 48 miles from Charlotte. Rise early in the morning and make it a day. Learn how trains talk to each other with whistles and horns. Get a 25-minute tour of the 57 acres on cars pulled by a real diesel engine and hosted by a train engineer. The Birthday Caboose is a real, retired caboose available for parties. The event will include a 25-minute ride. Let the kids take a diesel cab ride with an engineer for $25 per person. Put this on the calendar. Thomas the Tank Engine will be there on September 20-22 and 27-29. The storybook character event will include rides and a day full of activities.

Amtrak Charlotte
1914 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28206
(704) 376-4416

North Carolina’s Amtrak has an uptown Charlotte station. Plan a day trip to Salisbury and back for a train adventure. One-way trips are as low as $15. This Quick Trip option departs Charlotte on train #80 at 7 a.m. or noon. The #75 departs Salisbury at 2:08 p.m. and arrives back in Charlotte by 2:55 p.m. While in Salisbury, visit the Dan Nicholas Park and grab a bite to eat. The park offers a nature center, a miniature train, paddle boats, playgrounds and a small aquarium.

Related: Best Spots To Spend A Hot Summer Day In Charlotte

Catherine Lash engagingly connects with people. She has learned that interested listening and thoughtful questioning are the means through which collaboration creates a story. She grew up traveling the world and learning military life in an Air Force family of seven. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three kids. Her work can be found at

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,212 other followers