By John Ruch
Last month’s relocation of the gigantic “Battle of Atlanta” painting from Grant Park to the Atlanta History Center’s new Cyclorama building was a major preservation effort. But that’s not the only enormous artifact making a complex move to the Buckhead museum.
The “Texas,” a legendary locomotive dating to 1856, is getting the finishing touches of a restoration at a North Carolina museum. After an unveiling there in April, the 160-year-old steam engine will head to Buckhead later this year, where it will become part of the West Paces Ferry streetscape as it sits inside a glass-walled hall at the History Center.
The “Texas” was among the engines that took part in the 1862 “Great Locomotive Chase,” an incident in the Civil War where Union troops stole an engine named “The General” near Kennesaw. The “Texas” also ran for decades on the Western & Atlantic Railroad, the line that sparked the founding of — and gave a name to — the city of Atlanta.
The locomotive went on display in Grant Park in 1911. In 1927, it joined the “Battle of Atlanta” painting in the Grant Park Cyclorama building, and stayed there for 88 years.
In late 2015, the History Center removed the engine from Grant Park, a complex task that involved plowing a path through a small theater and tunneling through an embankment. The engine was trucked to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C., where it has undergone restoration work by the Steam Operations Corporation.
That work is finishing up and the “Texas” will go on display there in April, then head back to Atlanta for display at the History Center. It will likely open to the public in the fall.
“The final appearance of the ‘Texas’ is something that’s not going to be revealed until the April farewell event in Spencer,” said History Center spokesperson Howard Pousner. But he shared a December photo of the work so far, with the engine in the midst of its new paint job. He also provided a sneak peek of the new glass hallway under construction, with tracks already laid for the “Texas,” at the History Center at 130 West Paces Ferry Road.