Saturday, April 22, 2017

Just the ticket: Restored locomotive Texas arriving at Atlanta History Center on May 3

(N.C. Transportation Museum)

Fresh from an extensive restoration, a new paint job and some fine detailing, the Civil War locomotive Texas will be placed May 3 in its new home at the Atlanta History Center.

The locomotive famous for the “chase” end of 1862’s “Great Locomotive Chase” will be trucked from the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Craftsmen with Steam Operations Corp. spent more than a year and a half restoring the 1856 machine.

The Texas will be placed in a hallway-gallery that ushers patrons to the Atlanta Cyclorama painting, which is being restored.

The AHC announced the move date in a news release Friday. 

“After many years of limited view in the basement of the Cyclorama building in Grant Park, we are putting the Texas in a place where it is going to be front and center,” said AHC Vice President of Properties Jackson McQuigg. The AHC is in the city’s Buckhead neighborhood.

The Picket has written extensively about the Texas and its restoration, including the decision to put on a black scheme, representative of its importance in the development of Atlanta as a bustling railroad town.

The Western & Atlantic iron workhorse will go on display later this year as work on the massive painting depicting the July 1864 Battle of Atlanta continues.

Locomotive cab during restoration (Picket photo)

The $500,000 restoration included voluminous research as technicians removed extensive rust and blasted the engine with baking soda. A new pilot/cowcatcher, smokestack and boiler jacket were installed. The wooden cab was stripped and repainted.

Gone is the colorful appearance the Texas had since the 1930s.

“Atlanta History Center leaders, believing the Texas has even greater importance as an artifact that speaks eloquently and authentically of Atlanta’s beginnings, decided to return the locomotive to how it appeared in the late 1880s,” the news release said.

The Texas next weekend will get a rousing sendoff at the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer. The April 28-30 event will feature other locomotives. (The Texas is no longer an operating engine)

A few days later, Texas and its restored tender will be driven to Atlanta on separate tractor trailers. They will lifted and placed on the same tracks that held them since 1927 at Grant Park.

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