NORFOLK, Va. – Early rail, clothing, tools, locomotive parts, signage, photographs and advertisements are a few of the artifacts that will be on display when the Norfolk Southern Museum opens Dec. 5.
The opening marks Norfolk Southern Corporation’s 175th anniversary and reflects the company’s partnership with Norfolk and communities across the rail system.
"Norfolk Southern has a great story to tell," said Chairman David R. Goode. "Our 175-year history parallels the economic and social growth of America, and now we are playing a growing role in the global movement of 21st century goods. We’ve been around a long time, but our history is just beginning.
"The museum illustrates the contributions of our company in the growth of this area and the nation. We hope it will be a resource for educators and students as well as an interesting attraction for visitors," Goode said.
Norfolk Southern traces its origin to 1830. Since those earliest days of American railroading, hundreds of smaller roads combined, reorganized and consolidated to form the Norfolk and Western and Southern railways, which joined in 1982 to create Norfolk Southern. A portion of Conrail was added in 1999, resulting in today’s system covering the eastern United States.
The History Factory, of Chantilly, Va., designed and built the 1,600- square-foot museum, which includes artifacts contributed by employees, customers and suppliers, as well as by historical associations and museums. The railroad’s effect on American culture, and the diversity of the people who built it, are highlighted. Exhibits bring visitors up to the present, explaining the railroad’s role in modern-day logistics.
The museum is located on the ground floor of the company’s office building at Three Commercial Place in Norfolk. Beginning Dec. 5, hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The museum will be open to the public free of charge.
A visit to the museum by the life-size Best Friend of Charleston replica locomotive, on loan from the city of Charleston, S.C., is scheduled for Dec. 15-16. The original Best Friend pulled the first regularly scheduled steam passenger train in America, on Christmas Day 1830, on the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Co., Norfolk Southern’s earliest predecessor.
The Best Friend replica is scheduled for display on Wall Street on Dec. 12, when Norfolk Southern representatives will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in observance of the 175th anniversary.