Historic 1856 Texas Locomotive to Be Unveiled Following 16-Month Restoration
“The Texas Returns: Featuring 100 Years of American Steam” Will Be the Locomotive’s Only Appearance Outside of Atlanta
The Texas locomotive will be unveiled in a major N.C. Transportation Museum event April 28-30. “The Texas Returns: Featuring 100 Years of American Steam,” will highlight the historic engine while featuring operating steam locomotives, multiple train rides behind steam and diesel locomotives, once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities, and programs focused on the history of the 161-year-old Texas.
The engine first became famous, along with the General, for its role in the Great Locomotive Chase of the Civil War. During the Reconstruction Era, the engine was put to work for the Western & Atlantic Railroad. Atlanta History Center President and CEO Sheffield Hale said, “The locomotive served for 51 years on the famous Western & Atlantic Railroad, contributing significantly to Atlanta’s rise as a railroad center, and ultimately, an international city.”
The N.C. Transportation Museum was the chosen location for the restoration of the Texas due to the unique nature of the site as a former steam locomotive repair facility. The museum is on the grounds of what was once Spencer Shops, Southern Railway’s largest repair facility in the southeast. In recent years, the museum grounds have been home to the restoration of significant pieces of railroad equipment.
The Texas Returns event will represent the engine’s first public appearance since a 16-month exterior restoration, undertaken by Steam Operations Corporation and funded by the Atlanta History Center. This will also be the engine’s only public appearance before returning to the Atlanta History Center and taking up permanent residence inside the newly completed Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building, which also houses the famed Battle of Atlanta painting.
The Atlanta History Center is a partner in the event, with special support provided by CSX Transportation. CSX has aided in the restoration of the Texas and will support related events scheduled to occur at the Atlanta History Center upon her return. CSX will also provide displays and historic rail equipment during The Texas Returns event April 28-30.
Both Friday and Saturday will begin with an official unveiling of the Texas. The engine will be rolled out of the Bob Julian Roundhouse at 9:30 a.m. and onto the turntable, center stage, for the first photos of the post-restoration engine. The unveiling will feature comments from Dr. Kevin Cherry, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Dr. Gordon Jones, Senior Military Historian with the Atlanta History Center and Jackson McQuigg, Vice President of Properties with the Atlanta History Center, will also speak.
Through the three-day event, the Texas will be paired with other locomotives for photographs, representing different aspects of the engine’s notoriety.
The “100 Years of Steam” pairing will feature the Texas with the N&W Class J #611 and the Lehigh Valley Coal #126. With the 1850s-era Texas, the 1930s-era #126, and the 1950s-era #611, visitors will witness 100 years of steam powered technology, from the early days to the final chapter of steam locomotives.
A “CSX Transportation” pairing will feature locomotives that once served railroads that merged to form the modern CSX. The Texas, a Western & Atlantic Railroad workhorse, will appear alongside the museum’s own Atlantic Coast Line #501 diesel engine, as well as the Atlantic Coast Line #1031 and Seaboard Air Line #544 steam engines. A special part of this pairing will be the famed #2702 Spirit of Atlanta: Franklin M. Garrett diesel locomotive.
In 1980 the Georgia Railroad named the #2702 after the Atlanta historian who dedicated his life to chronicling the people and events of the shining southern city once known as Terminus, the final stop on a railroad line connecting the Midwest and Georgia. In 1983, the Georgia Railroad merged into Seaboard System, and Seaboard kept Garrett’s name on the engine, as did CSX when it merged with Seaboard.
During other portions of the event, the Spirit of Atlanta will be displayed with modern intermodal freight containers positioned behind the locomotive.
A Sunday photo pairing will feature only the CSX predecessor steam engines.
At the Throttle sessions will take place Friday and Sunday with two steam locomotives, the #611 and the #126. During these sessions, visitors will be stepping into the cab of these engines, with a qualified engineer, to run up and down the museum tracks, living out their rail fan dreams.
The Class J #611 steam locomotive, owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation, represented the height of steam engine technology when it was built in 1950, with all the size and power that represents.
The #126 allows for a step even further back in time. Built in 1931, the #126 was a mover of coal in Pennsylvania, first for the Lehigh Valley Coal Company, and then others. At the Throttle sessions with the #611 are sold out, however, jump seat cab rides behind the engineer are still available. At the Throttle sessions with the #126 are still available in limited numbers.
Saturday only, the N&W Class J #611 will take on the museum’s regular passenger train, moving visitors around the site under power of steam.
Saturday evening, the museum will host the “100 Years of Steam” dinner. Visitors will enjoy a traditional NC barbeque dinner as renowned railroad photographer Ron Flanary and Class J #611 historian Colonel Ingles Lewis “Bud” Jeffries provide a “steam themed” program. Flanary will detail his experiences photographing famous steam locomotives while Jeffries will delve deeply into the history of the Class J #611.
Each day will feature extra opportunities to see steam in action. The North Georgia Live Steamers will be on hand with scale steam engines, miniature versions that are exactly one-eighth the size of full size locomotives. Steam tractors that would have been found in America’s farming fields of the late 19th and early 20th centuries will also be featured.
Turning the focus to four wheeled locomotion, the CSX sponsored Play it Safe racing car will also be displayed. CSX partners with NASCAR and Front Row Motorsports to remind racing fans to always “brake for trains” when approaching a railroad crossing.
Through the Play It Safe initiative, CSX works to raise awareness about how to safely cross the tracks in hopes of preventing collisions. Visitors to The Texas Returns event in Spencer will get the chance to try the NASCAR simulator, which allows fans to put their driving skills to the test by taking a virtual spin around the racetrack from the driver seat of the Play It Safe car.
Each day will also feature different railroading operations, unique photo pairings, and more. One, two, and three day passes may be purchased with pricing options for adults, seniors, military, and children 3-12. The “100 Years of Steam” dinner is available as an upgrade to the event admission, at $20 per person. The full range of ticket options, more information, and ticket purchases are available at www.nctrans.org. Advance ticket purchase is recommended. Events are rain or shine. Taxes and fees apply.
At the event’s conclusion, the Texas will return to Atlanta, where it will be permanently featured in a custom-built glass-walled enclosure that will put the prized artifact of Atlanta’s rich railroading past on prominent display. It will be illuminated at night and clearly visible from West Paces Ferry Road at all hours. The glass enclosure housing the Texas will connect the Atlanta History Museum to the new Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building, which will house the Battle of Atlanta painting, expected to open later this year.
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About the N.C. Transportation Museum
The N.C. Transportation Museum, located in historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway steam locomotive repair facility, is located just five minutes off I-85 at Exit 79 in Spencer, N.C., and about an hour from Charlotte, Greensboro or Winston-Salem. The museum is home to the largest remaining operational roundhouse in North America, and numerous structures that represent what was once Southern Railway’s largest steam locomotive repair facility in the southeast. The museum is part of the Division of Historic Sites and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. Learn more at www.nctrans.org.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.
CSX, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is a premier transportation company. It provides rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services and solutions to customers across a broad array of markets, including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural, and consumer products. For nearly 190 years, CSX has played a critical role in the nation’s economic expansion and industrial development. Its network connects every major metropolitan area in the eastern United States, where nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population resides. It also links more than 240 short-line railroads and more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports with major population centers and farming towns alike. More information about CSX Corporation and its subsidiaries is available at www.csx.com. Like us on Facebook (http://facebook.com/OfficialCSX) and follow us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/CSX).