N.C. Transportation Museum Welcomes Historic Civil War Locomotive, the Texas
Courtesy of Jackson McQuigg, Atlanta History Center
Lots of research and restoration work has taken place. We’ve been looking into the various paint schemes that the Texas has worn over the years, through research of primary sources, discussions with historians with expertise on nineteenth century engines, and historic paint analysis. For instance, we learned that the tender with the Texas was actually built by the Mason Machine Works of Taunton, Massachusetts, for the Western & Atlantic (not Danforth, Cooke & Company, which built the engine).
We’ve also confirmed that the boiler on the engine dates to 1874. All of these discoveries will of course help inform the decisions we make around the appearance of the engine in the coming weeks.The tender has undergone some significant restoration work since the engine arrived at Spencer. Much of the timbered wooden frame of the tender showed signs of extensive rot.
Nathanial Watts, and Max Sigler of Scott Lindsay’s Steam Operations Corporation have worked diligently to replace the rotten beams with like materials and repair all salvageable wooden materials. The tender tank has been soda blasted, removing layers of rust hiding under the paint inside and outside the tender tank. On the engine itself, the boiler jacket has been removed—which exposed corrosion which will require soda blasting.
The soda blasting of the engine will begin next week. The Texas will move back to Atlanta during mid-January 2017, so that it can be placed in its new home at the Atlanta History Center. We are looking forward to its return and display here.
It was December of 2015 when the Texas arrived at the N.C. Transportation Museum:
The Texas Will Undergo Historical Analysis, Restoration
in the 1905 Back Shop at the N.C. Transportation Museum
Dec. 22, 2015 - The N.C. Transportation Museum has welcomed a 159 year old locomotive for historical research and restoration. The Civil War era 1856 Texas locomotive, famed as part of the Great Locomotive Chase of the Civil War and one of the city of Atlanta’s most treasured objects, arrived in Spencer at the N.C. Transportation Museum today.
The engine is expected to remain in Spencer for the majority of 2016. In addition to research and restoration, the move also serves as a transition from the Texas’s former home in Grant Park’s Cyclorama building in Atlanta, where it has resided since 1927, to a new home, now under construction at the Atlanta History Center.
This is familiar territory for the N.C. Transportation Museum, which was home to the restoration of the Norfolk & Western Class J #611 steam locomotive. Work conducted at the museum saw the iconic engine return to the rails. While the Texas will not be returned to operating capabilities, this unique piece of history will be studied and preserved for future generations.
The Texas is best known for the part it played in what became known as the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase of 1862. Union spies, in an attempt to disrupt the railway lines of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, hijacked a Confederate controlled locomotive named the General and began wreaking havoc to Southern supply lines.
In response, the Texas was commandeered by Confederate forces to give chase. After a 51 mile railroad pursuit, the General was overtaken. A foot chase ensued and the Union spies were captured. The story was immortalized in both Buster Keaton’s 1926 film, The General, and the 1956 Disney movie, The Great Locomotive Chase.
The Texas may be best known for its wartime activities, however, those with the Atlanta History Center see the engine as a symbol of the city itself. “The Texas locomotive symbolizes Atlanta’s longtime relationship with railroads and the city’s importance as a hub for people, commerce, and ideas. No artifact can be more important for telling the story of Atlanta’s beginnings than this Western & Atlantic locomotive,” said History Center CEO Sheffield Hale.
The Texas pulled passenger and freight trains in the Atlanta area for 51 of the city’s most formative years, retiring from service in 1907. It was rescued from the Western & Atlantic yard in Atlanta shortly after, narrowly escaping the scrap pile. In 1911, it was moved to an outdoor shelter in Grant Park. In 1927 the locomotive was moved indoors, occupying the Cyclorama Building in Grant Park, which was erected to house the locomotive and the Battle of Atlanta painting.
While the Texas saw restoration work in 1936 to more closely resemble its original appearance, and repainting in 1979 and 1982, never before has the engine been examined as a historic artifact, nor has a full restoration taken place.
Taking up residence in the N.C. Transportation Museum’s Back Shop, the engine will have a piece by piece historical analysis conducted, followed by restoration work by crews from Birmingham, Alabama-based Steam Operations Corporation. Rust and structural issues will be corrected and the engine will return to the earliest appearance for which there are records.
The public will be able to witness much of the restoration as it takes place in the museum’s Back Shop. The building massive size and open areas will allow visitors to see the engine, while other programming is planned for an up close view.
N.C. Transportation Museum Executive Director Kelly Alexander said, “We are truly excited about this partnership with the Atlanta History Center and proud that they have entrusted such an amazing artifact to our care. We look forward to showcasing the restoration work and our 57 acre facility to fans of the Texas.”
At the conclusion of the restoration, the Texas will return to Atlanta to appear in a new home at the Atlanta History Center’s Buckhead campus.
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About the N.C. Transportation Museum
The N.C. Transportation Museum, located in historic Spencer Shops, the former Southern Railway 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 part of the Division of Historic Sites and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
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. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, 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.