Today is National Train Day, a day created to celebrate the importance of railroads.
In honor of the day, we spoke with Sallie Loy, archivist at the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History about the importance of railroads.
How would you describe the impact railroads have had in Kennesaw, North Georgia and the state?
Development of our towns and cities along the railroad tracks i.e. Blue Ridge, Columbus, Macon, Tallapoosa, Marietta, Kennesaw, Acworth, Cartersville, Emerson, etc. With that came new industries such as cotton manufacturing, thread /cloth factory (Acworth’s Old Mill), restaurants, mercantile, banks, grocery stores, hardware, schools, etc.
And, with this came more people to live in these railroad communities thus requiring the building of residences . In other words, railroads started the building of our communities and industries that we all enjoy today as they transported our manufactured goods across the country and let’s not forget the mail trains that carried communications so efficiently that Mr. Glover could send a letter from his office in Marietta at 8:00 a.m. and receive a letter back from the addressee by 12:00 noon on the mail car train that same day!
Do people today realize the important role railroads have played in the development of the country?
I believe generally they do, especially those of us living along the railroad tracks/lines but they probably don’t know about the railroad’s helping in social issues such as raising money to help polio victims in 1940s (Radio Hour Shows); starting women’s organizations (Dollar Children), donating travel to Martha Berry to help with her school for underprivileged children; working with the “Good Highways” program promoting highways for automobiles; promoting the carvings on Stone Mountain, etc.
How would you describe the legacy of Glover Machine Works?
The Glover Machine Works was the only company in the south after the Civil War to manufacture steam locomotives and provide custom made parts for various railroads including the Atlantic Coast Line and Central of Georgia. The GMW history lives on at the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History and the Archives and Library with the family’s generous donation of artifacts and archival materials.
Why do you find studying railroads and their history to be so interesting?
Railroad history is so complex, they are the foundation of America, and there are so many stories that have been found and many more to uncover. Every day is like Christmas!
What is something people often overlook about railroads?
Again, I think they do not always know the good things railroads do -- with charities, fund raising for providing Christmas for the children of railroad workers that lost their lives while working on the railroads, providing educational materials re: railroading and safety to local schools, sponsoring poster contests for school children and awarding money for the best poster re: safety, and donating money to build museums and or archives.