Heart of the Chase bus tour to depart June 9
by Marie Nesmith
May 28, 2012 | 1447 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Through the Heart of the Chase bus tour on June 9, attendees will gain insight into Bartow County's role in the Great Locomotive Chase. Occurring on April 12, 1862, the chase occurred when civilian spy James Andrews and his Union accomplices tried to disrupt a key supply line of the Confederacy.

Presented by Bartow History Museum, Cartersville-Bartow Convention & Visitors Bureau and Etowah Valley Historical Society, the tour will retrace the chase's route through Bartow, making stops at Allatoona Pass, Cooper's Furnace, Emerson, Cartersville, Kingston and Adairsville.

"For a lot of us, we've heard of the chase and we know that it started south of us and went north of us throughout northwest Georgia," said Trey Gaines, director of the Bartow History Museum. "But we really wanted to focus on the places that saw the chase in Bartow County because much of the chase -- most of the chase in fact -- occurred within the borders of Bartow County."

After stealing the General locomotive at Big Shanty [modern day Kennesaw], Andrews and his accomplices planned to destroy the W&A Railroad's tracks and telegraph lines en route to Chattanooga, Tenn. Their plan was spoiled, however, when a southbound freight train pulled by the Texas locomotive decided to help pursue the General, traveling in reverse from south of Adairsville to catch Andrews near Ringgold.

"It's a bus tour so we're going to board the bus in Emerson and go across the county, stopping at Allatoona Pass and Cooper's Furnace, then stopping in communities where the train passed through [such as] Cartersville, Kingston and Adairsville," Gaines said. "And at each of those places, Joe Head, who is our historian and tour guide on the tour, will talk about the events of the day that happened at those specific places and how the chase unfolded as we hit each of those places.

"Joe has done a lot of research for a number of years on this event. He feels very passionate about it and has done a lot of primary-source research and has in fact written a book on the chase, particularly what happened after the Civil War relating to the various engines involved in the chase. So I think it adds a lot to the program to have him go on the tour with us and add the information and the facts and background on how the chase unfolded."

After arriving at 8:45 a.m., ticketholders will board a bus provided by Leisure Time at 9 a.m. at Emerson Elementary School, 54 7th St. After retracing the route, the group will return to Emerson about 5 p.m.

"Have you ever heard people say in communities, 'Well you know I've lived there all my life and I've never been over to see that museum. I've lived there all my life and I've always heard about that old house and I've never gone to look at it,'" Head said. "What I think this tour does is that it offers Bartow County, or people beyond Bartow County, the opportunity to come together and see these sites that we talk about but they never go and look at. ... It's going to be, of course, the route within Bartow County, the boundaries of Bartow County, but it will illustrate the accumulation of events that occurred in Bartow County that makes Bartow County the geography of where the most activity took place of all the counties that was covered.

"[Of] the five counties, Bartow County had more rich activity and sites and events of any other," he said, referring to more than 40 percent of the chase taking place in Bartow. "So it's going to point out all those places. I hope [the participants gain] some pride and awareness. Bartow County should own a greater stake in that story. We have some bragging rights and I would hope a participant, or one who might attend it, would go tell others and say, 'Hey, this chase, this story, belongs to Bartow more than we've ever known."

Tickets, which cost $35 for members and $40 for non-members, will cover admissions to museums and historic sites along the route, bus transportation and lunch. To purchase tickets, visit the Bartow History Museum Gift Shop -- 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville, under the Church Street bridge -- or call 770-387-2774. For more information, view the BHM's website at www.bartowhistorymuseum.org.