Great Locomotive Chase 150th Anniversary

Kennesaw, Georgia museum to celebrate Great Locomotive Chase‘s 150th anniversary.

The General  locomotive, one of the largest artifacts of the Civil War, is a prized piece in the collection at the Kennesaw Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History. The steam engine will be the centerpiece of an April celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Great Locomotive Chase.

In this exciting scene from the “Great Locomotive Chase,” April 12, 1862, the locomotive General, under the command of Union secret agent James J. Andrews, has dropped off a burning boxcar in an attempt to destroy the Western and Atlantic Railroad’s bridge over the Oostanaula River. Andrews can be seen in the cab, urging engineer William Knight to “pour it on” and make their getaway. Smoke and steam jet out as General’s throttle is pulled wide open. Other raiders scramble to get back onboard the now-moving train. In the distance, the locomotive Texas can be seen, racing backwards in hot pursuit. The bridge-burning attempt fails, frustrated by the rain-soaked timbers of the bridge and the boxcar and the bravery of southern conductor William Fuller and the crew of the Texas. Photo by artist Ron Hatch

The Southern Museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, has announced a day full of events on the sesquicentennial of the 1862 April 12th chase.

On that date, Union spies, called Andrews’ Raiders, had crept behind enemy lines in Big Shanty (present-day Kennesaw) with a plan to commandeer the General. Andrews’ Raiders intended to force an end to the war by cutting off the Confederate strategic railroad supply line between Atlanta and Chattanooga, tearing up track, destroying bridges and cutting telegraph wires along their way.

The 4-4-0 General steam locomotive was built in 1856 by the Rogers Locomotive Works of Patterson, N.J.

Nearly destroyed during Sherman’s plunder of Atlanta in 1864,  the Western & Atlantic RR American-type locomotive was used  in secondary service after the war. It was overhauled in 1871 and later converted to burn coal and to standard gauge from the original 5 -foot gauge.

After the 1956 Great Locomotive Chase Disney movie, a newly restored General briefly toured the country in 1962 before eventually becoming a permanent display at the Kennesaw museum.

Click here for the Sesquicentennial of the Great Locomotive Chase 2012 event schedule.

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