The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History is a Smithsonian
affiliate located just north of Atlanta in Kennesaw, Georgia. The
significance of Kennesaw in Civil War history is notable on several
fronts. Not only is Kennesaw the site of one of the most savage battles
of the war between the states, and home of a massive National
battlefield cemetery, it (Big Shanty Station) is also the beginning
point for what would eventually become famously (or infamously,
depending on loyalties) known as the Great Locomotive Chase. The key
subject of the action-filled story is housed here at the Southern
Museum. Let me explain...
On April 12, 1862, a small band of rough-cut northern spies led by a
civilian northern scout (secret service?) by the name of
James J. Andrews, boldly stole
a train in plain sight of the southern army. Their objective was to push
north to Chattanooga, cutting telegraph lines and destroying track and
bridges along the way. Their ultimate goal was to cut off supply lines
and communication between Atlanta and Southern Troops in Tennessee.
Unfortunately for the spies, a single enthusiastic train conductor named
William Allen Fuller would have
nothing to do with his train being stolen by a bunch of Yankee spies. He
set out on foot to chase his train, the
General, until he got it
back. Mr. Fuller's resolve proved to be more than "Andrew's Raiders"
expected, and the train was captured near Ringgold, Georgia, remarkably
near the spy's destination. Some of the northern spies were captured and
some escaped to return home. The Union survivors were awarded the very
first Congressional Medals of Honor.
In 1956, the Great Locomotive Chase adventure was made into a Disney
Fess Parker, an actor who later
(1964) became the star of the popular TV series Daniel Boone. Rebecca
and I were young children during that time period, and Fess Parker was a
star to us. So, when I first saw The Great Locomotive Chase at camp at
the ripe old age of 9, it was a immediate hit.
Ok, sorry about the tangent, but the
point is, the steam engine named The General, the real star of "The
Great Locomotive Chase," is here in all its glory. Yes, the
original, 200-year-old locomotive is displayed here at the Southern
Museum. Also, an abbreviated 20 minute film tells the Great Locomotive
Chase story in the
museum's theater, and the full length Disney DVD is available for purchase in
the museum's gift shop.
Now, I don't want to neglect the rest of
the museum because there is much more here. The Southern Museum features
many displays portraying life of the soldiers of the Civil war, both
northern and southern. Most displays are static: pictures, clothing,
eating utensils, and weapons. Additionally, the museum has a series of
displays portraying the manufacture of train engines by the Glover
Machine Works during the time period. This is a really cool display
showing the processes of engineering, machining, casting, and manufacturing.
For the children:
While much of the museum is targeted at adults, there is a portion of
the Southern Museum dedicated to children. There are displays of
historical significance that encourage children to role play (dress-up).
There is also a full-size model of an engine in which children can
experience the thrill of piloting a train. Additionally, the museum is
adjacent to a very nice playground, a sure cure for childish boredom.
In summary, the Southern Museum is a must-see for adventurous families.
Much of the static portions of the museum are not the most exciting
places for small kids, but there are plenty of distractions to help keep
them occupied. We really recommend the purchase of Disney's Great
Locomotive Chase DVD in the museum's gift shop. It's well worth it!
While in the Kennesaw area, we suggest a short drive up to Cartersville
to visit the Tellus Science
Museum, the Booth Western Art Museum, and the
Etowah Indian Mounds. If camping and recreation are what's on your
mind, check out
Mountain State Park and
Campground on nearby Lake Allatoona.
Note: The Great Locomotive Chase story is special to us because it
happened here in our own back yard. In fact, Rebecca and I are both
originally from Ringgold, the town where the General was recaptured.
Scroll down for more including an Adventure Journal entry.
The Southern Museum in Kennesaw has been on our radar for a
long time. We have seen billboards advertising the museum,
and we've had other travelers and friends tell us it was a
worthy stop. The fact that it is a Smithsonian affiliate
made the visit inevitable.
We visited the museum Labor Day on our way home from
camping at Lake
Lanier. When we arrived, I was pleased that adequate
parking and turn-around space was provided for the RV and
boat just across the street. There is a nice big playground
The entry of the Southern Museum is inviting with multiple
historic displays. A very nice gentleman in the ticket booth
calculated the least expensive way for a family of six to
tour the site, and it was VERY reasonable. I wish other
places we visit tried harder to accommodate larger families.
After entering the first exhibit hall, I was concerned
that the kids may become restless because most of the
displays were static. Pictures, clothing, eating utensils,
all telling the story of the Civil War and the history of
trains in the south.
Surprisingly, the kids seemed somewhat interested,
especially in the weapons on display.
As we proceeded through the museum, we were introduced to
the Glover company, an historic local manufacturer of train
engines. There are multiple examples of wooden casting
models on display here. It's interesting to see the complex
parts that were made first of wood, then cast in iron.
The Glover company is a prominent exhibit here with many
restored belt-driven machines like mills, lathes, punches,
and boring machines (not boring as in "dull" boring as in
"making holes"). If you have a love for machines like this,
you'll love this display.
From there we visited the kids' exhibit. Our young ones are
beginning to feel too old for some of the "kiddie"
attractions... But wait, who am I fooling. They still love
it! They particularly enjoyed dressing-up in the costumes
and posing for pictures. There is also a mock-up of a train
engine with a video showing what an engineer would see
traveling along the tracks in North Georgia. The kid
engineer can control the speed of the train, ring the bell,
and toot the whistle. Pretty cool!
Eventually we made our way
into the theater where we viewed a 20 minute film about the Great
Locomotive Chase. It was well done and maintained the kids attention
for the duration. When we exited the theater, pictures of the men
involved in the actual real-life spy thriller were displayed along the
walls. Then the ultimate star of the legend, the General. It was much
larger than I think any of us expected. It is beautifully restored,
looking like it could be fired-up and driven right out of the building
(and it probably could).
Our last stop was, of course, the gift shop where various Civil War and
train-related trinkets can be purchased. We resisted buying all but the
full length DVD of Disney's film,
The Great Locomotive Chase.
The Richardson Tribe
Amicalola Falls State Park
Beaches of South Walton.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Cedar Creek Park
Charlestown State Park
Chattahoochee Bend State Park
Cherry Hill Park
Chester Frost Park
Choccolocco Mountain Off Road Park
Cloudmont Ski and Golf
Consolidated Gold Mine
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
Desoto State Park
Doll Mountain Campground
Enota Mountain Retreat
Etowah Indian Mounds
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Florala State Park
Franklin D Roosevelt State Park
Fort Mountain State Park
Georgia Mountain Fairground
Georgia Veterans State Park
Gold n Gem Grubbin'
James H Floyd State park
James Island Park
Jellystone Park- Cave City, KY
John Tanner Park
Lake Sidney Lanier
Little River Canyon Center
Live Oak Landing
Lula Lake Land Trust
Mammoth Cave National Park
Moto Mountain Powersports
New Echota - Cherokee Capitol
Noccalula Falls Park details and pictures
Old Stone Fort Archaeology State Park
Pine Moutain RV
Red Top Mountain State Park
Ridge Ferry Park
Rocky Mountain Recreation Area
Rock Town - Pigeon Mountain
Salt Springs Recreation Area
Stone Mountain Park
Tannehill State Park
Tellus Science Museum
The Southern Museum
Topsail Hill Preserve
Up The Creek RV Camp - Park Details - Pictures
US Space and Rocket Center - Details and Pictures
Vogel State Park
Wild Animal Safari
World of Coke
Zoo Atlanta - Details and Pictures
Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History will
host the fifth annual installment of its highly popular
“Trains, Trains, Trains” event on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015.
The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout
This is rare. I'm giving a
website a 10. The Southern Museum's website is awesome. The
colors, the delivery, the information, the images. Being a
museum, I'm giving them a break on the pictures. After all,
if they show all their exhibits, why go to the museum?
Southern Museum is in what "appears" to be a very old, but
very well renovated building from the outside. The inside of
the facility appears brand new. The floors, glass, exhibits,
walls, everything spotless like it was installed yesterday.
The curator and staff of the Southern Museum apparently
pride themselves in keeping the building and its contents in
tip top shape. It reminds me of the
Museum and the Booth Western Art Museum, both located
just up the road from here in Cartersville. Why a 9? It
could be larger!
Great Locomotive Chase
Locomotive Chase is really the core of this museum. It
provides the "star power' that attracts patrons. I wish
there were more to it, but seeing the actual train is quite
Railroads: Lifelines of the Civil War
|This is an
awesome tour of the history and importance of railroads in
the south. Most displays are static. I wish there were more
interactivity for the kids here.
Glover Machine Works
|This exhibit was one of
my favorites because I love to see historical examples of
manufacturing. The kids were ok with it, but didn't really
understand the significance. Again, more interactivity for
the kids would be good.
Jolley Education Center
|This is the
area for kids, and it's pretty cool. The Richardson Kids
were entertained for a while, but there could be even more
activities. Dressing up and posing for pictures seemed to be
their favorite part of the day.
Local Attractions-Things to do near Cartersville, GA.
Western Art Museum,
Etowah Indian Mounds,
Red Top Mountain State Park, etc. You could spend a week or more in the
area, and never get bored.
*Note: We rate
only the amenities we have personally reviewed.
No financial consideration or favor has been received for
listing in PB&J Adventures' website. We are in no way
affiliated with this facility or any other facility we
review. Any paid advertising seen on this site was arranged
after the destination was reviewed. You can trust the
reviews to be unbiased.
September 2012 - Please note - I am not
pleased with the quality of these pictures. Museum lighting
is difficult to shoot in without an adequate camera. On this
trip, my digital SLR camera had died (as in "cannot be
repaired"). I have since purchased a professional Canon EOS
DSLR camera, so image quality will improve.