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Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History 8/24/2007

by Chris Guenzler

Chris Parker and I pulled into the parking lot and across the street was the Kennesaw Train Station now a museum itself. That station was built in 1908. The Western & Atlantic Railroad constructed the first depot in what was once known as Big Shanty that later became Kennesaw in the 1850s. Union Soldiers burnt that single wood building in 1864. A new freight station was built in the 1860s. In 1908 the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis constructed a new passenger and freight depot. It was more elaborate building than the earlier depots as it had a freight room and an office for a ticket agent. In the 1920s the north end of the depot was lowered and the waiting room were added to complete the station.

The Kennesaw Station.

The reason this museum is here in Kennesaw goes back to April 12, 1862 when this place was known as Big Shanty. On that date James J. Andrews and a band of Union Spies stole the Confederate Locomotive the General while the passengers and train crew were eating breakfast at the nearby Lacy Hotel right from under the noses of the guards from nearby Camp McDonald. In a matter of minutes Andrew and his men had cut off the passenger cars and stole the General heading north for Chattanooga where they hope to reach Union forces about to arrive there. Confederate Conductor William Fuller shortly gave chase and the Great Locomotive Chase was under way. The General made it as far as Tunnel Hill where the General ran out of wood where the spies gave up the engine and headed for the woods with almost all of them getting caught. They were taken to the Prison in Atlanta where the more guilty including Andrews were hung. This new museum traces the events of that day plus gives one a better understanding of the Civil War. We walked inside and were given press kits then introduced to Trevor who would be our tour guide throughout the museum.

Lifelines of the Civil War was the first hall that we saw. General Custer's Parade Uniform. The Medals of Honors presented posthumously to the family of Sgt. John Scott are also here. Confederate Joe Brown, General John Bell Hood Coats are also on display here as well.

Georgia's Governor Joe Brown had ordered blacksmiths and other small weapon manufacturers across the state to make "Pikes" at the beginning of the Civil War and this museum has an exhibit of some of them.

One of the Confederate Canons in this museum. We continued to walk through this unique museum seeing many fantastic things from the Civil War.

The Glover Machine works is displayed here. Glover made many different steam engines. This exhibit features the only full scale, belt driven locomotive assembly line in the country and features two original Glover Steam locomotives and plenty more. It was most impressive.

A Glover Steam Engine on display here. There is a gallery of locomotives made by the Glover Machine Company. We continued to walk through the museum and a few minutes later I finally saw what I had come here to see.

The General.

Two more views of the General.

Model of the General.

Model of the Texas.

Another model of the General.

Another model of the Texas.

Trevor our excellent tour guide by the General. We thanked Trevor for the excellent tour then visited the Gift Shop. We then went outside as I needed one more picture to complete this story.

The State of Georgia Historical Marker about the General. Chris and I got in the rental car both thinking how wonderful and unique this Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History is. Anyone interested in either railroading or the Civil War or like me both must visit this museum. We headed back north up the Interstate towards Chattanooga. I remembered seeing a picture in last month's Railfan magazine and it showed the vold tunnel at Tunnel Hill near where the Great Locomotive Chase ended. Chris and I got off the Interstate at the Tunnel Hill exit and found the old railroad tunnel that both the General and Texas passed through during the chase.

The W&A Tunnel. With all reds on the CSX signals and it still being the hottest and humid day yet of the trip, we returned to Chattanooga. I had Chris find the former Southern Railway Freight house I had seen yesterday on the way to the TVRM.

The former Southern Railway Freighthouse.

We turned into our home for the last five days the Chattanooga Choo Choo where we would have a great down pouring of rain before Chris and I would have "Dinner in the Diner" at 7:30 PM before we turned it for last night at the Chattanooga Choo Choo.