Record year for North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer

Record year for North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer
N.C. Transportation Museum Saw Record Growth in 2019, $22.2 Million Economic Impact to the Region (Source: NCTM)

SPENCER, N.C. (WBTV) - In 2019, the N.C. Transportation Museum achieved record attendance for the third consecutive year, providing an even greater positive economic impact to the surrounding region than ever before, according to a news release.

The Spencer, N.C. historic site drew 158,872 visitors in 2019, an increase of 8.1% from the year before. According to figures released by the Rowan County Convention and Visitor Bureau, the museum represents a $22.2 economic impact for Rowan County and North Carolina.

N.C. Transportation Museum Executive Director Kelly Alexander said, “We are very pleased to see the numbers reflect what we have been seeing each day. More and more people are experiencing our history and attending our great special events.”

The record attendance in 2019 represents a six-year period of continuous growth for the N.C. Transportation Museum. Visitation has increased an extraordinary 80% since 2014, the first year the museum hosted THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. The holiday event has become the site’s biggest draw each November and December, with more than 64,000 attendees across 22 event days in 2019.

While THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is owed much of the credit for the museum’s growing attendance, increases have been seen year-round. Alexander said, “Day-to-day visitation is up, more school field trips are being booked, and we saw record visitation at a number of other events.” The annual Fire Truck Festival, the Brew & Choo Craft Beer Festival, the aviation-centric Wind & Wings event, and summer car shows all saw record numbers in 2019. “We are building on the success of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride by giving those visitors multiple reasons to visit us again, outside of the holiday season,” said Alexander.

The museum’s year-round increases have far reaching effects. The $22.2 million economic impact represents full time, part time, and seasonal employee salaries, gift shop sales, vendors, contract labor, hotel stays created by museum events, and site rentals. CEO of the Rowan County Convention and Visitor Bureau, James Meacham said, “The museum’s wide portfolio of events and activities attract new visitors each year, which fosters continued growth and an increasing economic impact for the region.”

Partnerships with the Rowan County CVB include free museum event tickets if visitors book an overnight stay in Rowan County, a very successful promotion for events like Day Out With Thomas™ and THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride. The CVB is also a supporter of museum events through traditional and social media promotion and their Arts & Ag branding of events. Meacham said, The North Carolina Transportation Museum is a vital component of the local visitor economy and a Rowan original.”

More information about the N.C. Transportation Museum and event tickets can be found at

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