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A Visit to the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

Click on the picture for a closer look!
Our TRHA team has over the years visited a number of other railway museums to benefit from their experiences in developing and managing railway museums. Michael Guy, a TRHA Vice-President, vacationed in Florida last month and on his way home, took the opportunity to visit the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia! One of the major driving forces in the establishment of the new museum was an uproar over the destruction of the original Glover Machine Works buildings by land developers. A new building to much the same design as the original Glover factory was built to house the museum as shown in the picture at the left above.
With three impressive permanent collections, the Museum offers a wide range of exhibits, including a glimpse into the daily lives of soldiers during the Civil War; a reproduction of the turn-of-the-century Glover locomotive factory; and an exciting depiction of the Civil War's Great Locomotive Chase.
On April 12, 1862, James J. Andrews and a band of Union spies stole the locomotive, the General, from under the watchful eyes of guards at nearby Camp McDonald while passengers and crew were eating breakfast at the Lacy Hotel. An exciting chase ensued and the story became quite famous. The museum houses the original steam locomotive as shown in the picture above. For more information, visit this Wikipedia entry.
A 1956 Disney movie called the "Great Locomotive Chase" captures the excitement and stars Fess Parker, who also played Davey Crockett, the hero of Wild West to my generation in the early days of television. But much more fun is the "The General", a movie made by Buster Keaton in 1927. It is considered his masterpiece, combining physical comedy with Keaton's love of trains (Hey, he was one of us! - Ed.). Buster Keaton took his crew on picturesque locations and painstakingly re-enacted an actual wartime incident, complete with an epic locomotive chase. I have this movie and it is excellent.
The Glover Machine Works played a significant role in industrializing the South after the Civil War. This museum brings the collection to life with a reproduction of the Glover factory, featuring the only restored belt-driven locomotive assembly line in the country, original machining equipment, and two restored Glover locomotives in various stages of assembly. An interactive presentation detailing the train building process, from metallurgy and patterns to casting and construction helps visitors experience life as a factory worker, while detailed company records provide insight into the management of the Glover Machine Works. In the right hand two pictures above, we see the machine works display with the steam engine components ready for assembly. Note that the lathe is belt driven from an overhead system which powered all of the rotating machinery through a system usually driven by a central steam engine or two.
These visits to other museums provide us with a great source of ideas and inspiration as we approach designing our own museum and the exciting exhibits possible with today's technologies.
Story by Russ Milland; Pictures by Michael Guy

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