Wikipedia: Spencer is a town in Rowan County, North Carolina, United States, incorporated in 1905. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 3,267.
The town was named for Samuel Spencer, first president of the Southern Railway, who is credited with establishment of the railroad’s mechanical shops at the site in 1896. The site was approximately the midpoint of the railroad’s mainline between Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC. As the shops were being built the Southern Railway developed a town, also named Spencer, alongside the shops for worker housing. Initially, the Southern partitioned 85 acres into 500 lots. Instead of creating a traditional “company” town in which the workers rented houses Southern sold the lots to workers or businesses for $100 apiece. The deeds did contain restrictive covenants which maintained that a dwelling costing in excess of $400 and approved by a Southern appointed architect be built within a year. The Southern donated lots for religious institutions. Southern also helped establish a YMCA in the town. The community grew quickly and by 1901 had 625 residents.
The former Spencer Shops were phased out during the 1950s through 1970s and have now become the location of the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

Welcome to the Town of Spencer, quietly nestled in the heart of the Piedmont just hours away from your choice of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the coastal beaches of North & South Carolina. We pride ourselves on maintaining our small town atmosphere, while offering the convenience of major cities such as Charlotte and Winston-Salem only 30 minutes away.

Spencer became the first “development of consequence” to this area after the Southern Railway Company chose to locate a service yard centrally between Washington, DCand Atlanta. Established in 1905, our township that resulted remains loyal to its heritage – boasting the largest contiguous historic district in the state of North Carolina.

The Spencer Shops continue to serve as a reminder to the town’s origin, now serving as the site of the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Those activities of preservation and renovation have spilled over into the community as well, bringing about a renewed sense of pride that has become a vital part of everyday life.

So enjoy the tree-lined streets and friendly atmosphere, downtown shops and community events.

“Come, sit a spell… we hope you’ll decide to stay”.

Things we love about Spencer

    Spencer is relatively quiet.  Our neighbors mostly keep to themselves and interaction go only as far as “beautiful day”, or “Good morning”.  They are all good people and we have enjoyed our passing commentary.
    The town has a very strict ordinance so one thing you will notice about Spencer (especially the historic area) is that all the yards and streets are well maintained.  This is a change from the area of Lexington NC that we moved where yards tend to get overgrown and debris can be seen in neighbors yards.
    One block over from our home is a beautiful walking park and fully renovated 1900’s library.  Within walking distance, my fiance and children have enjoyed many summer strolls down to the library to read in the park.  This area is the epicenter of Spencer’s revitalization and we have seen 5 houses (including ours) be renovated stemming from this center in the last year and a half.  Though Spencer NC has a long way to go we believe it’s off to the right start and have been very encouraged by the strides we have seen since living here.  We plan to buy another home in Spencer to continue our contribution to it’s revitalization.
    The History and Historic (affordable) homes in the area.  Driving through Spencer on our way to dining in Salisbury NC we always noticed the grand, opulent homes that seemed to need a little TLC.  When we started shopping for our first house, we discovered these beautiful homes were very competitively priced in comparison to Salisbury, Granite Quarry, and even Lexington NC.  This was very interesting to us due to Spencer bordering close to Salisbury and seemingly the same town!  Due to Spencer’s small-town local economy, even though it’s so close to Salisbury (3 minutes from our house) the houses are much more affordable per square foot.  So you can have the home you want in the town you want without having to deal with the traffic, higher-than-average crime, and taxation of living in Salisbury.  We have used this to our advantage living in Spencer but dining and shopping in Salisbury.
    Pride it gives to really contribute to a towns revitalization.  When we purchased our home, we had already fallen in love with Spencer’s fixer-upper atmosphere.  Like there was a gorgeous town just below the surface in need of some new “home-towners” to bring it back to life. Going forward we would love to see more homes go from renters to owner-occupants and increase the median income so more shopping will come to town.

Transportation Museum

 This family-friendly place is a 60 acre site filled with interesting exhibits and special events. 

Four large exhibit buildings represent the remaining structures of the historic Spencer Shops, once Southern Railroad’s largest steam locomotive repair facility on the east coast.  Buildings include the Back Shop, the Master Mechanic’s Office, the Flue Shop and the 37-stall Bob Julian Roundhouse.  The museum is a source of education and fun for the young and old. 

There’s plenty to see and do. Take a ride on the train or turntable. Go on a scenic excursion, participate in Day Out With Thomas, or take THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride.  There’s something for all to enjoy. 


Our Mission

The mission of the North Carolina Transportation Museum and Foundation at historic Spencer Shops is to preserve and interpret the history of transportation in North Carolina and to present this history in a manner that allows visitors to enjoy their experience as well as learn from it.

Objectives related to the mission are:

  • To preserve the buildings and other historic features of Spencer Shops.
  • To interpret the history of the Southern Railway repair facility, the community and the people who were associated with it.
  • To operate an on-going program of transportation artifact restoration and conservation.