The Southern Museum

In Association with the Smithsonian Institution

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More than 500 people turned out Saturday for the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History’s popular Polar Express Adventure.

Museum-goers who braved weather outside that was frightful were transported into a warm atmosphere that was just delightful.

Polar Express 2014 24 - Version 2Santa Claus and his elves brought the magic of the North Pole to Kennesaw, setting up their temporary workshop in the Museum. The evening began as a train conductor and a hobo greeted guests, and visitors spent the evening making holiday crafts, watching elves make toys and meeting with Santa to share their Christmas wish lists.

“Tonight was all about fun, and even a cold and rainy evening couldn’t deter visitors from stepping into the holiday spirit,” said Sara Wilson, the Southern Museum’s event coordinator.

“Kids of all ages enjoyed the hands-on opportunity to make unique Christmas crafts, write letters to Santa and interact with the jolly man himself,” Wilson said. “Polar Express Adventure always proves popular among Metro Atlanta families, and we look forward to being a part of our visitors’ holiday traditions for many years to come.”

In addition to mingling with elves and Santa, guests enjoyed a holiday-themed model train layout on display during the event. To see more pictures from the event, please visit the Museum’s Facebook page.

The Museum’s next event is “Trains, Trains, Trains.” The fifth annual installation of the highly popular event is scheduled for Jan. 24, 2015.

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The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History will host its fifth annual “Trains, Trains, Trains” event on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015.

This year, the special railroad-themed event will be more family-friendly than ever before! “Trains, Trains, Trains” will include new layouts and activities, as well as an expanded version of the Museum gift shop that will offer guests an even larger array of train and railroad items made especially for kids.

“‘Trains, Trains, Trains’ is the Museum’s most popular annual event, and this year our staff has been gearing up for what is sure to be our largest turnout yet,” said Dr. Richard Banz, the Museum’s executive director. “We are proud to host an event where families can make memories that will last a lifetime.”

As guests navigate the Museum and discover new layouts, they will be able to interact and operate them by turning transformer throttles, pulling levers or pressing buttons. Featured in the Museum’s large Cobb Energy Gallery, North Georgia Modurail will set up the largest layout ever showcased at “Trains, Trains, Trains,” filling the 3,600 square foot space. This impressive track allows visitors to view each model train on the layout from any angle. North Georgia Modurail’s HO layout excites spectators each year, and with new recent additions and changes, guests are sure to see something they have never seen before.

With the expansion of hands-on activities for all ages, kids will be able to take part in a new and enjoyable take-home craft featured in the Museum’s classrooms. Adding to the excitement, railroad artifacts will be on display for visitors to hold, touch, and discover how they are used. Tickets will be available for pre-sale online beginning on January 2nd.

Guests can stop by the always popular General Emporium Gift Shop to pick up the latest and greatest train gadgets and toys, selected especially for kids.

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Kurtz Lacy Hotel

Today marks the 150th anniversary of a “tragic chapter of our history,” the burning of the city during the Civil War.

Known as Big Shanty at the time, Kennesaw was home to Camp McDonald, one of four Confederate training camps throughout the state.

The city entered the annals of history on April 12, 1862, when Union spies stole a Confederate locomotive stopped in town with the hopes of destroying the Western & Atlantic Railroad connecting Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn. The episode is today remembered as the Great Locomotive Chase or the Andrews Raid and is memorialized at the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History.

Union soldiers captured the city in June 1864 and used the Lacy Hotel, one of the few buildings in the town at the time, as a military garrison. In October of that year, after Atlanta fell into the hands of Union troops, Confederate forces re-occupied Big Shanty, but Union soldiers eventually recaptured the town and later burned it to the ground.

“On Nov. 14, 1864, soldiers from the Union’s Fourteenth Army Corps descended upon the area and destroyed the Western & Atlantic Railroad, sparing little of Big Shanty in the process,” Southern Museum Curator Jonathan Scott said.

“The Lacy Hotel was burned to ashes along with many of the buildings that existed here at the time,” Scott said. “After Nov. 14, the Civil War moved away Big Shanty for good, leaving in its wake devastation, loss and poverty.”

George M. and Edna Lacy rented the Lacy Hotel, a small, two-story boarding house located along the Western & Atlantic rail line, starting in 1859. The hotel, located beneath what is today the municipal parking lot next to the historic 1908 train depot in downtown Kennesaw, was known among travelers and soldiers for its food and service.

While the hotel wasn’t rebuilt following the Civil War, a new town emerged from the ashes. The city of Kennesaw was formally incorporated in 1887 and named after Kennesaw Mountain, the site of a major Civil War battle in June 1864.

“Today, as we commemorate this tragic chapter of our history, we are reminded of the strength of our community and its ability to overcome war and adversity,” Southern Museum Executive Director Richard Banz said. “We are also encouraged to think of the many positive contributions and the bright future that Kennesaw will contribute to Georgia and America today, tomorrow and beyond.”

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The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History is bringing back its popular Polar Express Adventure event this December.

The special holiday event is scheduled from 5-9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. The Polar Express Adventure follows the City of Kennesaw’s annual Christmas celebration, parade and tree lighting ceremony.

Upon entering the Museum, attendees will meet a train conductor and a hobo before having the opportunity to create holiday crafts and watch elves make toys in their holiday shop in the Museum’s Glover Machine Works exhibit. They will also be able to meet Santa during the evening. Hot chocolate and light refreshments will be served.

A holiday-themed model train layout will also be on display during the event.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased the night of the event.The museum is offering special pricing for the event. Tickets for adults and seniors are $5, children (4-12) are $3 and infants (3 and under) are free. While attendees can go through most of the event at their leisure, please note that when you purchase your Polar Express Adventure tickets, you will need to select an appointment time to see Santa during the event.

Times you can choose from are as follows:

  • 5:00pm, 5:20pm, 5:40pm, 6:00pm, 6:20pm, 6:40pm, 7:00pm, 7:20pm, 7:40pm, 8:00pm, 8:20pm, and 8:40pm.

For more information, please email events@southernmuseum.org or call 770-427-2117 ext. 3058.

Additional details about Polar Express Adventure and other future Museum events are available at facebook.com/southernmuseum or southernmuseum.org.

*Please be aware that Polar Express adventure at the Southern Museum is not an actual train ride. Rather, it is a vignette taking attendees through the story of the Polar Express.

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The General locomotive retired from service on the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway – a successor of the Western & Atlantic Railroad – in 1891. But, even in “retirement,” the famed locomotive was a draw at the many expositions where she appeared, including Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition and Atlanta’s 1895 Cotton States Exposition.

By 1901, the famed locomotive was placed on “permanent” display at Union Depot in Chattanooga, Tenn.

After more than two decades on static display, the locomotive traveled to Baltimore in 1927 to participate in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s “Fair of the Iron Horse.” That trip started a new chapter in the General’s history as the famed steamer toured the country, attracting throngs of fans wherever she went.

Six years after the “Fair of the Iron Horse,” the General appeared at the 1933 “Century of Progress” Exhibition in Chicago. In 1939, the locomotive appeared at the “New York World’s Fair,” and in 1948, the General traveled to the “Chicago Railroad Fair.”

As the locomotive approached her 100th birthday in 1955, she was as popular as ever. For the centennial observation of the Great Locomotive Chase in 1962, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad overhauled the engine, adding modern air brakes and converting the steamer to burn oil.

Two years after the General toured the country under her own power as part of the now-famous centennial tour, she trekked once again to New York, this time for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. As the picture above shows, the locomotive’s smokestack was removed so the General could safely pass beneath low bridges during transport into New York Harbor.

The General eventually steamed her way to the Better Living Center at the Fair and was displayed for the summer of 1964.

The above picture, which has not been widely displayed or published, is part of the extensive railroad collection of the late Col. James G. Bogle. Until his death in 2010 at the age of 94, Bogle was the preeminent authority on the Great Locomotive Chase and collected hundreds of artifacts connected to the daring Civil War event.

Click here to read more about the collection, which the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History recently acquired. Did you see the General at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York? Share your experience below.

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The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History on Friday broke ground on an 8,700-square-foot expansion to its research center.

Once complete, the Southern Museum will be home to one of the largest centers for researchers, scholars and historians studying southeastern railroads of the United States.

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The Museum’s extensive archives collection includes more than 45,000 rare railroad photographs through the David W. Salter Collection, a one-of-a-kind glass plate negative collection of Glover Machine Works locomotives and thousands of Southern Railway-related documents through the Southern Railway Historical Association Collections.

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“We are fortunate that our collection of documents, letters and artifacts has expanded at the rate it has. But, in order to continue to grow, we need a larger facility,” said Dr. Richard Banz, executive director of the Southern Museum. “The expansion will be a world-class facility that will serve as a permanent place to preserve, interpret and, most importantly, make these important artifacts accessible to researchers.”

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The $1.1 million expansion project is expected to be completed this spring.

The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History on Friday will break ground on an 8,700-square-foot expansion to its research center.

Once complete, the Southern Museum will be home to one of the largest centers for researchers, scholars and historians studying southeastern railroads of the United States.

The Museum’s extensive archives collection includes more than 45,000 rare railroad photographs through the David W. Salter Collection, a one-of-a-kind glass plate negative collection of Glover Machine Works locomotives and thousands of Southern Railway-related documents through the Southern Railway Historical Association Collections.

“We are fortunate that our collection of documents, letters and artifacts has expanded at the rate it has. But, in order to continue to grow, we need a larger facility,” said Dr. Richard Banz, executive director of the Southern Museum. “The expansion will be a world-class facility that will serve as a permanent place to preserve, interpret and, most importantly, make these important artifacts accessible to researchers.”

The $1.1 million expansion project is expected to be completed this spring.

Descendants of a participant in the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase recently donated a 110-year-old Medal of Honor to the Southern Museum.

The family also donated written accounts and personal belongings of Wilson W. Brown, who in 1862, was part of a group of Union soldiers who stole the General locomotive from Kennesaw as part of a daring bid to destroy the Western & Atlantic Railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

Brown was bestowed the Medal of Honor in 1863 for his participation in the Chase, also known as The Andrews’ Raid. The Medal his descendants donated on Saturday was a duplicate Brown received in 1904.

Click here to read more.

Starting immediately, visitors to the Southern Museum should park in the lot on Cherokee Street in front of the Museum or in the lot at the historic Kennesaw train depot across Cherokee Street from the Museum. Handicap parking is located in the lot directly in front of the Museum.

The parking lot behind the Museum is closing to prepare for the start of construction on the Museum’s expanded research center. More details on construction will be announced soon.

Sallie Loy, archivist for the Southern Museum, looks through documents from the Bogle Collection.

Sallie Loy, archivist for the Southern Museum, looks through documents from the Bogle Collection.

The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History has received the extensive railroad collection of the late Col. James G. Bogle.

Until his death in 2010 at the age of 94, Bogle was the preeminent authority on the Great Locomotive Chase and collected hundreds of artifacts connected to the daring Civil War event.

Bricks from the old W&A RR freight depot at Marietta, Ga., are part of the Bogle Collection.

Bricks from the old Western & Atlantic Railroad freight depot at Marietta, Ga., are part of the Bogle Collection.

In addition to his research on the Great Locomotive Chase, Bogle thoroughly researched and collected artifacts related to railroads throughout the southeast, ranging from well-known routes such as the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway to lesser known lines such as the Etowah Railroad.

“Col. Bogle was such an expert on the Great Locomotive Chase and railroads, and his work remains invaluable to researchers today,” said Sallie Loy, archivist for the Southern Museum. “Filmmakers, authors and researchers always contacted Col. Bogle when they had a question because they knew he had the answer. We are preserving his years of dedicated work so it can live on for the next generation of researchers and historians.”

Bogle’s collection includes four filing cabinets filled with documents, including newspaper clippings, letters and notes. His collection also includes more than 30,000 photographs, a rail that was likely in use during the Great Locomotive Chase, signs from railroad depots throughout the southeast and documents from the late Wilbur G. Kurtz, the son-in-law of Chase participant William A. Fuller.

Bogle, a native of Colesburg, Tenn., moved to the Atlanta area with his family in the late 1950s, and the colonel retired from the U.S. Army in 1967 after serving for 31 years, including tours of duty in World War II and in the Korean War.  During his distinguished military career, he earned the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.

The Bogle Collection includes historic rail that was likely in use on the Western & Atlantic Railroad in April 1862.

The Bogle Collection includes historic rail that was likely in use on the Western & Atlantic Railroad in April 1862.

In 1999, Bogle co-authored with Stan Cohen “The General and the Texas: A Pictorial History of the Andrews Raid.” In 1982, he oversaw the restoration of the Texas locomotive, another locomotive that saw action during the Great Locomotive Chase and which is on display in Grant Park in Atlanta.

“Col. Bogle was a true friend to not only the Southern Museum, but to historians and railroad enthusiasts,” said Dr. Richard Banz, executive director of the Southern Museum. “His collection is one-of-a-kind, and we have a sense of duty to not only preserve the documents and artifacts in this collection, but share his lifetime of work with historians and researchers.”

The collection is expected to be ready for researchers by November. A number of artifacts will be used in exhibits throughout the Southern Museum to help tell the story of the Great Locomotive Chase and the role railroads had in developing the south after the Civil War.

For more information, visit southernmuseum.org.

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Annual Events

The Southern Museum, in association with the Smithsonian Institution, is a premier metro Atlanta museum, featuring exhibits on Civil War and locomotive history. The Southern Museum is home to the General locomotive, stolen during the Civil War's Great Locomotive Chase; a reproduction of the locomotive assembly line from the Glover Machine Works; weapons, uniforms and every day items of Civil War soldiers; and the Jolley Education Center that features train history, hands-on activities for children and Georgia's French Gratitude Train.

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