The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
Virginia Museum of Transportation
303 Norfolk Avenue SW
Repository URL: http://vmt.org/
Repository description (extant): The Roanoke Transportation Museum, originally formed as a partnership of the Norfolk & Western Railway and the City of Roanoke, first opened its doors in 1963 in Wasena Park along the Roanoke River. Although all modes of transportation were represented, the Museum focused on telling the story of Roanoke’s rich rail heritage.
In 1976, a private non-profit corporation was established to operate the Museum, and in 1983 the Museum was designated as the Official Transportation Museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Subsequently, the Museum was renamed the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
Disaster struck the Museum in 1985, when floodwaters surged through the Museum leaving behind $1.4 million in damages. Norfolk Southern came to the rescue, generously donating the 1918 vintage N&W freight station to be used as the Museum’s new home. The Museum is now housed in a 45,000 square foot building adjacent to active Norfolk Southern mainline tracks on 5.75 acres of land in downtown Roanoke.
The Museum’s collection includes approximately 2,500 objects, including more than 50 pieces of rolling stock—locomotives and other rail cars—including the largest collection of diesel locomotives in the South. The Museum has expanded its collection to include automotive, aviation, transit, and other artifacts and frequently exhibits loaned objects.
Today, the Virginia Museum of Transportation welcomes guests from across the nation and around the world. The Museum exists to preserve Virginia’s transportation history and to honor the workers whose talents created the transportation marvels in our collection. As a partner in the newly established “Virginia’s Rail Heritage Region,” it is our privilege to preserve their stories and accomplishments for future generations.
Repository type: Museum
African-American heritage on the Norfolk & Western, 1930-1970