KENNESAW, Ga. – Mayor Mark Mathews today commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Great Locomotive Chase, saying the episode is “a piece of our history that we remember, we memorialize and we honor.”
The mayor spoke to a crowd outside the historic Kennesaw train depot, helping to kick off a four-day-long celebration of the Chase, also known as the Andrews’ Raid.
“One hundred fifty years ago today, if you were standing at this spot, you would have been a witness to one of the more dramatic events of the Civil War,” Mathews said. “The tale has become legendary: A band of Union spies led by a civilian, James Andrews, stole the General right out from under the nose of its conductor, crew, passengers and a group of Confederate soldiers from Camp McDonald.
“The raiders headed north, determined to do whatever they could to prevent reinforcements and supplies from reaching Chattanooga,” the mayor added. “They were eventually captured and several were executed as spies. Some of the Andrews’ Raiders became the first recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
Joining the mayor at this morning’s ceremony were Dr. Richard Banz, executive director of the Southern Museum; Paul Chastain, president of the Kennesaw Museum Foundation; Clarence Gooden, vice president and COO of CSX Corp.; Tim Lee, chairman of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners; and U.S. Rep. Dr. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta.
“The story of the Andrews’ Raid is a very compelling story, so much so that Hollywood couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring it life in the 1956 Walt Disney movie, The Great Locomotive Chase,” Mathews said. “But it’s more than that for us here in Kennesaw. It’s personal. It’s our story. It all began right here. It’s a piece of our history that we remember, we memorialize and we honor.”
The day of commemorative activities kicked off at 6 a.m. with a breakfast, which began exactly 150 years after a group of Union spies stole the General locomotive in what is today downtown Kennesaw. The episode is memorialized in film, books and at The Southern Museum, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate that is home to The General.
The slate of commemorative activities planned for today also includes a dinner event at the Trackside Grill in downtown Kennesaw and a post-dinner concert featuring Bobby Horton, who will be performing Civil War-era music. The museum is also offering free admission to the public from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. today.
In addition, on Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15, the museum will host “Camp McDonald: A Living History Weekend” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Local re-enactment groups will recreate and interpret life in a Confederate encampment that was located nearby. Tickets purchased for this event also include admission to the museum.
For more information about the Great Locomotive Chase anniversary celebrations, visit southernmuseum.org/sesquicentennial/. For more information, call (770) 427-2117, visit southernmuseum.org or follow the museum at facebook.com/southernmuseum.
About The Southern Museum
A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History features collections of rare Civil War weapons, uniforms and other personal items; an exciting exhibit about the Great Locomotive Chase, including the General locomotive; and a full-scale replica of a locomotive factory that helped rebuild the South after the war. The Jolley Education Center features a variety of hands-on exhibits to inspire a love of learning in children. During the sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Southern Museum will be hosting numerous events that will explore topics relevant to this tumultuous time in history. Visit the Museum’s calendar of events at southernmuseum.org for a list of activities and events.
The Southern Museum is located 20 miles north of Atlanta, off I-75 at exit 273. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.50 for children ages 4-12, and free for children three and under.
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