Friday, July 7, 2017

2017 Fire Truck Festival - Spencer

In late June, my family and I returned to Spencer and the North Carolina Transportation Museum for their Third Annual Fire Truck Festival.  When you have two boys - one that is four and the other just turned one - fire trucks and trains are both something to get excited for.  The Fire Truck Festival brought in over 100 fire trucks from nearby communities, some from the Raleigh area and Virginia, and items from private collectors. (For my entire photo set on flickr - please visit here.)

One of the featured items was the Charlotte Fire Department's "Old Sue" a 1902 horse-drawn steam fire engine.  My oldest really enjoyed sitting up in the carriage and checking out "Old Sue."

Along with modern trucks and engines, there were many antique and vintage fire engines.  What was nice about this is that kids were allowed to climb into the old fire trucks and try to sound the hand crank sirens and other gadgets.


The festival concluded with a Fire Truck Parade through Downtown Spencer.  Many of the fire trucks that participated in the festival did a brief ride with full lights and sirens down Spencer's main street - Salisbury Avenue.  This was surprisingly a very popular event.  We arrived at around 11:30 am and had to park along one of Spencer's residential streets. Tickets to the event included admission to the entire museum's grounds and we also added a train ride for the boys. 

Since our visit in April, the Back Shop had even more exhibits within it.  But most surprising was the operating model railroad, this was a pleasant surprise and really captured the attention of both boys.

The Fire Truck Festival is one of many annual events held at the NC Transportation Museum.  As you an guess, our family will be making the two hour or so trek from Raleigh to Spencer a few times a year.

Friday, June 9, 2017

New Bern Walkabout

Downtown New Bern

The City of New Bern is one of North Carolina's many historical towns and communities along its coast. Founded in 1710 by Swiss and German immigrants, New Bern is named after Berne, Switzerland - the home of town's founder, Baron Cristoph de Graffenried.  New Bern would serve as the colonial and early state capital of North Carolina from 1770 -1792 when the state capital was moved to Raleigh. The capitol was located at Tryon Palace.  During the Revolutionary War, fears that New Bern's proximity to the coast would make it susceptible to British attack spurred the initiative to move the capital further inland.  Shortly after, Tryon Palace would burn to the ground.  It wasn't until the 1950s that the Governor's Palace and grounds were rebuilt and opened to the public.

Of course, Tryon Palace is not the only historic and unique building within New Bern.  The New Bern City Hall is one of the most recognizable landmarks within the city.  This historic structure constructed in a Romanequese Revival style was built in the 1890s.  Completed in 1897, the building original was home to federal courthouses and offices before being turned over to the city in the 1930s.  The most well known feature is the four sided clockhouse tower that was designed by James Knox Taylor.  

In addition, the Craven County Courthouse is another historic building.  Located within the New Bern Historic District, the court house was built in 1883 replacing an earlier courthouse that was burned during the Civil War.

Caleb Bradham's Pharmacy - The Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola

One of New Bern's claims to fame is that it is the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola.  In 1893, Caleb Bradham would create what was then known as "Brad's Drink" at his drug store located along Middle Street in Downtown New Bern.  Six years later, "Brad's Drink" was renamed Pepsi-Cola and the rest is history.  Today, Bradham's Drug Store is now a museum and store celebrating Pepsi's long and storied history.

New Bern Bears

When you travel to New Bern, you will come across a lot of bears.  It's in the town coat of arms, you will see bears as decorative ornamentals on the City Hall Building (see below), and you will also find numerous bears as pieces of local public art found through out town.

As part of the city's 300th birthday celebration, the city commissioned local artists to create 50 different bears as works of public art.  Many of these bears can still be found around the city today.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Old Stretch of US 220 - Montgomery County

Throughout out the Central Piedmont, there are numerous old roads.  Drive down any rural highway on a warm summer day and you'll see a sleepy old road that will tempt you to drive it.  Former US 220 in Northern Montgomery County is one of those old roads.  It's not long - in fact it's broken up into two pieces - but it is worth exploring.  The old highway is now called Asbury Church Road; however, the worn concrete pavement screams of old highway 220.
It's not hard to find this old piece of US 220.  From the US 220 Freeway, take exit 42 (Black Ankle Road) and head east towards US 220 Alternate.  For the northern segment of Old 220 - Turn left onto US 220A north and Asbury Church Road will be about 1/3 of a mile to your left.  For the southern segment - Turn Right onto US 220A South and Asbury Church Road will be about 1/2 mile on your right.

All photos taken by post author - June 16, 2007

Asbury Church Road heads south towards Black Ankle Road through local farmlands.

Looking back north towards US 220A.  There's really no need for passing lane pavement markings as the road dead ends at Black Ankle Road.

A typical scene along Asbury Church Road (Old US 220).
Asbury Park Road is blocked by a barricade as Black Ankle Road runs between the two segments of the old highway.  The southern segment of Asbury Church Road is seen in the distance.

The barricade that halts traffic heading north on Asbury Church Road.  The southern segment of this road is slowly beginning to be overrun by the land.
The southern segment of Old US 220/Asbury Church Road curves back towards US 220A.  Asbury Park Road is one of numerous segments of Old US 220 throughout the Central Piedmont.


Friday, June 2, 2017


KELLUM - Community on US 17 in Onslow County north of Jacksonville.


BELGRADE - An unincorporated community on US 17 just south of Maysville in Onslow County.  The Belgrade Quarry located here is well known for its production of limestone marl.


CHADWICK - Jones County Community on US 17.  Though there is no mention of a Chadwick in Jones County in the North Carolina Gazetteer, there are two Chadwick Bays nearby.  One in Onslow County to the South and in Carteret County to the East.  There is also a Chadwick Creek in Carteret County which flows into Chadwick Bay.  The Carteret County Chadwick Bay is named after Samuel Chadwick who was an eighteenth century whaler that resided in the area. 

Ten Mile Fork

TEN MILE FORK - Community along US 17 in Jones County.