"Who stole the Chanticleer" Spencer by etfromnc

Spencer Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 0 photos

Once only a tanktown for the railroad, when I was in college, Spencer was one of the greatest mileposts on my journey between Charlotte, my home, and Durham, where I went to college. Alongside the Spencer exit from I-85, was a restaurant called The Chanticleer. That is also the name of the yearbook for my school so whichever direction I was going that restaurant always brought a special warmth to my heart as I passed. I do not know how good of a restaurant it may have been because I never ate there. In those days, I was usually just happy to have enough money to afford meals in the Great Hall at the Student Union. I did stop by The Chanticleer once with every intent of eating but it was closed. Several years ago, when they began widening I-85 to eight lanes, The Chanticleer was torn down. I still cannot drive by that exit without that special warmth returning.

A transportation hub

Spencer is a small town just north of Salisbury in Rowan County, North Carolina. It is about halfway between Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, DC so it was literally established due to geographical good fortune. Before trains started crisscrossing the area it was primarily farmland. In 1896, Southern Railway decided to build its primary, and largest, steam locomotive service facility in what soon became known as Spencer. Less than a decade later, in 1905, Spencer incorporated as a town and took its name from the first president of the Southern Railway, Samuel Spencer. I do not know whether he was born a railroad man but he definitely lived a railroad man and, unfortunately, died a railroad man in November of 1906 at the age of 59 while he was sleeping in a railroad car on a siding south of Lynchburg, Virginia, which was hit by a train traveling on the wrong track.
As steam-powered locomotives began to disappear from our rails, work at the Spencer Shops, the name given to that huge servicing facility, began to diminish and stopped completely in 1960, but the facilities are, for the most part, still there. For what happened to them, please see the Things to do Tip which I hope to write in the very near future.

  • Last visit to Spencer: Dec 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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