Bartow History Museum lecture to highlight Western & Atlantic Railroad's history Thursday
by Marie Nesmith
Jan 26, 2011 | 2258 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At a young age, Robert Jones was introduced to The Great Locomotive Chase through the book "The Stolen Train." Now, as an adult, the Civil War historian's interest still is piqued by the subject, leading him to pen a book on the topic as well as deliver various presentations, like his Bartow History Museum discussion Thursday at 7 p.m.

"When I was in elementary school, we had something called a scholastic book service," Jones said. "You could order books from it in school and I read a book called 'The Stolen Train.' I guess I was probably around 10 or 11 years old, and it was about The Great Locomotive Chase. So ever since then I've had some interest in it.

"So, I actually have three different presentations I give. One is on the railroad itself, the W & A; one is on the actual Great Locomotive Chase itself, where the key stops are along the route; and then the third is a history of the locomotive, The General. So that lifelong interest kind of all comes together in those presentations."

On Thursday, Jones' discussion will focus on the history of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, with details about its ties to Bartow County.

"The state-run railroad that ran from Atlanta to Chattanooga -- it was finished in 1850 and it existed up until 1891," said Jones, director of programs and education for the Kennesaw Museum Foundation and president of the Kennesaw Historical Society. "The reason anybody cares about the Western & Atlantic is that's the railroad that The Great Locomotive Chase occurred on. So The Great Locomotive Chase went right through Bartow County.

"In 1862, a group of Union spies, or Union raiders, made their way down to Georgia and they stole the train pulled by an engine called The General in Marietta on April 12. And the goal was to steam up to Chattanooga and tear up track and cut the telegraph wires and burn the bridges," he said, adding CSX transportation currently leases the railroad line from the state of Georgia. "The reason we still know about it today is because when they stole the train in Kennesaw, the conductor of the train and the engineer of the train chased the raiders 87 miles until they finally abandoned the train north of Ringgold."

Following the presentation, Jones will answer questions and sign copies of his book, "The W & A, the General, and the Andrews Raid: A Brief History."

With Bartow County's rich Civil War history, Amanda Brown -- BHM's manager of programs -- believes Jones' lecture will be of interest to many area residents.

"This year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War," she said. "So a lot of our programs this year will be about that topic, [especially] with the [train] depot right here next to the museum and [since] The Great Locomotive Chase went through here. So there is a connection to that. And I think people are interested in what happened 150 years ago and making that connection to today is really neat."

Previously held at The Resource Center, the BHM's evening lecture and lunch and learn programs now are being held at the museum galleries' new home -- the 1869 Courthouse -- at 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville. This change has been an added benefit for the museum's programs, especially with an increase in space and an opportunity for patrons to view the venue's permanent and temporary exhibits.

"There's more space and it gives people a chance to view the museum as well," Brown said. "For members, it's free, but for not-yet members it's museum price to attend the lectures now and that's because they get admission into the museum. They get to look at the museum and then enjoy the lecture at the same time. So they're getting more by having it at the museum.

"Really, it's more convenient because people are coming to the museum. They know where to go now. It's really exciting for us to be able to hold our own events at our location."

For non-members, the cost to attend the lecture will be $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for senior individuals and students, and free for children younger than 5. For more information, call the Bartow History Museum at 770-382-3818 or visit