ASME-Landmark:Southern Railway Spencer Shops


One of four known preserved railroad shop complexes in the United States, Spencer Shops is the only one designed and constructed primarily during the 20th century. A majority of the buildings, used originally in steam locomotive repair and maintenance, are still intact, including the backshop, roundhouse, flue shop, paint shop, and parts storage buildings. The 37-stall roundhouse is one of the largest remaining roundhouses in North America still in continuous operation, and the backshop is the only preserved erecting shop in the U.S. The site contains other significant buildings, including the car repair shed, yard office, oil house, sand house, and wheel balancing shed.

The shops were proposed by Samuel Spencer, President of Southern Railways. The railway began construction on 141 acres of land purchased in 1896. Once completed, the Spencer Shops serviced four equal operating lines of 160 miles each at a point halfway between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, GA.

The facilities were originally constructed to provide regular maintenance and overhaul of steam locomotives, freight and passenger cars, and served as a base for track maintenance-of-way. The roundhouse, originally 15 stalls, was completely remodeled in the 1940s to accommodate diesel locomotives.

Today, the Spencer Historic District represents the development of the town of Spencer, one of the largest single-industry towns in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, where Spencer was established in 1897 to house skilled workers and management at the Southern Railways' newly-constructed shop facilities. See ASME website for more information