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Collection Exhibition Themes
Workers outside Southern Railway's Spencer Shops
Currently on display
Not a part of the official Smithsonian Collection
Because of their number and types of work clothing, these men appear to be from one department of the Spencer Shops, but it's unclear which (perhaps from part of the railroad Car Shop at Spencer). They appear to be mechanics and laborers.
Date Made:
North Carolina
North Carolina Division of Archives and History

Railroad locomotive-repair 'shops' were located in cities and towns throughout the country. A railroad usually centralized its facilities for the most extensive kinds of locomotive repairs (i.e., 'heavy repairs') at one location somewhere on its rail system; this facility was often called the 'back shops.' Locomotives from every part of the system needing such repairs were sent to that place.

For the Southern Railway, in the first half of the 20th century, the town of Spencer, N.C., was the home of the system's back shops. (See also the pictures, "Main Erecting Hall, Spencer," "Aerial View, Spencer Shops," and "Forging a Steel Billet.")

Railroad shop workers loved to pose for group pictures, sometimes posing on top of a freshly repaired and painted locomotive.

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