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See storied locomotive ‘The General’ in Kennesaw

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Jack Lowrie poses with a train in the Jolley Education Center.

By Melissa Lowrie
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Photos by Melissa Lowrie

Melissa Lowrie
Melissa Lowrie

The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw is an important stop for any train buff.

Perfect for boys around 10 and younger, this museum boasts rare weapons, model trains, interactive exhibits and loads of historical photographs and treasures.

The self-guided tour begins in the Railroads: Lifelines of the Civil War hall. The highlight for my son was the collection of muskets, rifles, swords and pistols. Some of the rifles weighed in at a hefty nine pounds—imagine that plus a pack and ammunition as a soldier heading into battle.

According to the museum’s website, “The Glover Machine Works: Casting a New South exhibit features the only fully restored belt-driven locomotive assembly line in the country.” The huge room shows trains in various stages of completion. It’s an interesting glimpse into the effort it took to build one of these massive trains years ago. The General Theatre is in this section of the building as well and shows a 30 minute movie on the hour and the half hour.

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Visitors can check out trains large and small at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw.

From there we headed into the Jolley Education Center. Full of interactive exhibits, there is a space for the Pre-K set to play and interesting exhibits for older kids including Georgia’s Merci Gratitude Boxcar, a gift from France for providing aid following World War II. Flip the shields and find out how well you know your French provinces.

Worth the price of admission—the pièce de résistance—famous locomotive, The General. After a court battle 40 years ago, the state of Georgia won the rights to The General from the State of Tennessee and the storied locomotive came back to Kennesaw, near where it had been stolen in April 1862.

Union Civil War spies stole the locomotive some 150 years ago and attempted to cause damage to the Western & Atlantic Railroad on the way to Chattanooga. The spies were caught and hanged, however, thanks to The General’s alert conductor who chased the train by foot.

The General is now on display at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. There are plenty of photo opportunities including a second-floor observation deck for a bird’s eye view of the big locomotive.

In 2001, the museum became a Smithsonian Affiliate. One of nine affiliates in Georgia, the prestigious designation means the Kennesaw museum displays some of the Smithsonian’s Civil War and transportation treasures in temporary and permanent collections.

There is, of course, a gift shop with all-things-trains on the way out. Here you can purchase some Civil War era money and a pen made to look like a rifle (among other fun things).

Tickets are $7.50 for an adult admission and $5.50 for a child (ages 4–12) admission. Senior tickets are $6.50. For more information including directions and hours, check out southernmuseum.org.

Reactions from the testers? “Cool!” from the boy and “boring” from the girl. For the train-types in your life, this is a must-see. If trains aren’t your thing or you have a house-full of girls, perhaps another outing would be best.

Enjoy your adventures with your Canoe Kids and wherever you end up, have a great time.

 

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