The Avery County Historical Museum in Newland is home to some incredible artifacts, transporting visitors back decades through items such as clothes and pictures.
The museum is also the resting place for two historical artifacts that were integral in serving the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad, also known as Tweetsie Railroad.
One of these items is the Linville Depot. The Depot was originally located two stops past Newland on the Linville River Railroad, which was an extension of the Tweetsie Railroad. It was moved to the Museum in 2007 and restored to its original state, and it turns 100 years old this year.
“We got the depot about ten years ago,” Tense Banks, the Avery County Museum Chair, said. “So, it’s our tenth anniversary of having it here with us too.”
The depot has been refurbished, with most of it redone to look exactly as it had during its peak years of operation. However, more history can be found in the baggage area of the depot.
“Back there, there is a lot of information about the train,” Banks said. “It talks about why the train came, what it’s purpose was. It’s really historical.”
The other of these items is Caboose 505, a train car that was part of the original Tweetsie train that traveled all over the ET&WNC railroad line.
The caboose was restored by the vice president of the ET&WNC Railroad Historical Society, Jerry Turbyfill, who decided in 2015 that the Avery County Historical Museum was the perfect home for the train car. It is currently parked on a small section of tracking right next to the Linville Depot, creating a scenic picture of what it may have looked like when the train was still running before it stopped in 1950.
Both the Depot and the train car will be celebrated at the upcoming event at the Avery County Historical Museum that will be commemorating the Depot’s 100th birthday on Saturday June 3 at 11:00 a.m.
According to Banks, it’s also the 100th anniversary of Cheerwine and Moonpies, so there will be a Moonpies and Cheerwine there for everyone in attendance, along with the regular refreshments of coffee, popcorn, ice cream and the like.
Along with this, there will also be a variety of music, as well as educational videos about the railroad. The caboose of the Tweetsie Railroad will be open for the first time on June 3 at the celebration since it was received two years ago. There will also be tours of the depot and education about the Tweetsie Railroad.
“It’s so important for kids and young people to understand the relevabce that the railroad had in the county,” Tense said. “It had such a positive impact on the economy.”
Banks stated that the railroad originally came in to haul out the minerals. Eventually, one thing led to another and after functioning for a little while, the railroad then brought in tourists.
“Tourists came from all over. We even had a hotel,” Tense said. “It was really booming during the prime time of the railroad.”
Unfortunately, when the railroad was destroyed because of the flood, it had an equally negative impact on the community, taking away the boost in economy that it had brought in.
At one point, however, the Tweetsie Railroad provided such an amazing environment and influence on the county, and Tense believes that it is more than just mere history. Knowing about the train, knowing about the county and all the things it has gone through, is a vital piece of information when learning about heritage and mountain culture.
Coming out to the 100th celebration of the depot on June 3 is the perfect way to learn about the mountain heritage, as well as what the county was like before, during and after the Tweetsie Railroad ran through.
“Most people don’t even know that a train used to come through here,” Tense said. “This is amazing information that everyone should know.”
Along with the Tweetsie exhibit, the museum has a movie exhibit and a Land of Oz exhibit going on that everyone can visit during the celebration.
For more information, call 828-733-7111.