Hours of Operation

April 17 through October 15, 2015
Monday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 - 5:00 PM
October 16, 2015 through March 31, 2016
Monday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Closed Sundays
Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Easter
Hours subject to change - please call 910-763-2634 for latest information.

Support the Museum

Special Notice - Many local businesses are supporting the great work of the Museum as it enters a new era of service.  Click on "a business" below to see who is helping!

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The Model Railroad Committee Maintains Three Operating Layouts

In the following series of pictures you will see some of the many aspects of the Museum's model railroads.  All told, we have 20 operating units in four scales throughout the Museum, demonstrating the craftsmanship of this fascinating hobby, and there are more than 50,000 hours of volunteer work invested in the displays.  If these inspire you to investigate model railroading further we recommend a visit to the web site maintained by the National Model Railroad Association.  Their introduction to model railroading information page can be found at www.nmra.org/beginner/.

More photographs of our model railroad layout can be seen on "flickr".  Click on this URL to have a look -  http://www.flickr.com/photos/47241512@N06/show/

and here's another production to check out - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMIFPqEn3l4


In the Children's Area 

You will find our Lionel/O-Scale layout with six operating units, including Thomas the Tank Engine.  You'll also see lively action accessories, such as McDonalds, a gas station, coal loader, oil derrick, bridge, and playground swings.  Blow the whistle for added realism!

Thomas makes his rounds.

An overview of the O Scale layout as it nears completion.

Several of our smaller visitors get creative with their own layout in the Children's Hall.


In the Model Hall

Craftsmanship and attention to detail make this layout a marvel.  Based on images and history of railroading in the coastal areas of North Carolina, the model is set in the transition years between steam and diesel early in the 1950s.  Double mainline tracks carry passenger and freight trains, sawmills and lumber yards are served by a branch line, trolleys are operating in the re-creations of Wilson and Wilmington, and shuttles haul loads to a powerhouse or switchyards.  All told, more than a dozen units operate at the touch of buttons located around the layout.

A view of the HO operating layout under construction in the Model Hall, June 2007.  With 1500 sq. ft. of floor space, dedicated volunteer modelers create scenery and realistic structures.  Here are a few details about the layout, along with conversions to real-size equivalents, where applicable.


         Layout area: 750 sq. ft.

         Scenic highlight: Re-creation of ACL Wilmington freight and passenger terminal area and surrounding buildings as they were in the 1950s

         Length of dual mainline: 286 ft. (4.72 scale miles)

         Total installed track: 1200 ft. (19.80 scale miles)

         Viewing perimeter: 198 ft.

         Volunteer time so far: over 50,000 hours total and counting.


With countless details of buildings and scenery, the layout continues to be refined.   There already are twelve operating trains, and many scenic features illustrate real-life prototypes.

The start of the model of the Wilmington Train Station in 1950.


At work on the control electronics in the Model Railroad Workroom.


The "Wilson" area of the HO layout in December, 2007.


The Smith Creek Yards on the HO layout in December 2007.


A view of the Wilmington roundhouse and turntable, showing where engines were serviced.


A wedding party exits at the church at Third & Red Cross Streets in 1950 (replaced by a gas station)


A rock quarry and  stone crusher help to show how limestone is extracted for cement making.


With ACL Building B (foreground), the railroad district reaches another level of realism.  Wilmington's Union Station with the roundhouse in the background. Street tracks next to station carry the trolley to Wrightsville Beach (although Thomas has been known to show up instead).


A tobacco farm adjacent to the coal fired power plant.


A re-created pine forest and logging diorama represents North Carolina's role in the lumber industry.



Now in Wilson!  A visiting carnival sets up, complete with midway, rides, and music.  Buttons activate the different features in this new attraction.


On The Road

Some of the modelers have developed a modular layout, where segments can be disconnected and transported for display at shows in the region.  Built to exacting standards used by other clubs, the modules offer opportunities to construct very large layouts, often more than 100 sections temporarily occupying 10,000 sq. ft. or more.  The Museums modules have traveled to Atlanta, Raleigh, Myrtle Beach, Southport and other destinations to promote the model railroading hobby and to display some excellent craftsmanship.