Wilmington Railroad Museum
For more than 125 years, railroading was Wilmington's chief industry. In 1840 the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad was completed and was the longest continuous rail line in the world at 161 miles long.
Near the turn of the 20th century several railroads up and down the eastern seaboard, including the Wilmington & Weldon, merged to become the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. The ACL company headquarters was located here in Wilmington.
During its heyday the railroad contributed heavily to the area's commercial and industrial growth and provided jobs and revenue for the local economy. In 1960 the ACL moved its headquarters from Wilmington to Jacksonville, FL. It was the largest single move of employees ever staged by a southeastern industry. The railroad moved over 1,000 employees, their families, their belongings, and the company files and office equipment more than 450 miles by rail.
Started in 1979 by three women and a table of ACL Railroad artifacts, the Wilmington Railroad Museum was dedicated to preserving the rich history of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the history of railroading in the southeastern United States.
By 1983 the Museum found a home in the former ACL Freight Office Building at the north end of downtown Wilmington. Exhibits quickly expanded, helpd by donations of a vintage locomotive, boxcar, and caboose. For the next 25 years, the Museum added to its collections, acquiring artifacts and providing information that interpreted the growth and impact of railroads, along with the people who worked on them.
In 2007 the Museum moved to an authentic 1883 railroad freight warehouse, a setting that provides more space for the collections and greatly improves comfort and accessibility for visitors. Thousands of hours of volunteer time were invested in remodeling and relocation, and visitors are universally impressed with the exhibits and displays.
At the entrance to the Museum, we maintain a guest register where visitors can sign in. Over the past year, we enjoyed meeting people from 20 foreign countries, 48 states, and 147 North Carolina towns and cities (from Aberdeen to Zebulon). It's a great testament to the Museum as an attraction among the many offerings in Wilmington.
Your Wilmington Railroad Museum has an extensive library of railroading history. A few of the available articles are repeated in the History section. To research the full set of available information please visit the museum.