Opening November 17th, 2018
In fall 2018, the Texas will open to the public accompanied by Locomotion: Railroads and the Making of Atlanta, an exhibition that will interpret the major role railroads played in transforming Atlanta into the transportation hub and commercial center it is today.
The exhibition captures Atlanta's beginning, in 1837, when a surveyor drove a stake into the ground in a North Georgia forest previously inhabited by Native Americans. The stake marked the end point for the Western & Atlantic Railroad designed to run north to the Tennessee River. The town that grew up around that stake was called Terminus before being named Marthasville and then Atlanta in the 1840s. Railroads connected Georgia's sea ports and navigable waterways to the nation’s interior.
Atlanta History Center is further enhancing the experience by creating a series of rail-inspired Meet the Past museum theatre characters that will premiere with the opening of Locomotion: Railroads and the Making of Atlanta in November. Performed on weekends, these include Pullman porter James Stewart, Southern Railway chairman W. Graham Claytor Jr., and pioneering woman switch tender and brakeman Gertie Stewart.
As part of Atlanta History Center’s hands-on-history approach, guests will be invited to climb up into the locomotive’s cab and get the engineer's view of the larger-than-life Texas.
At its new home at Atlanta History Center, the Texas is in a glass-enclosed exhibit gallery prominently placed on the front of the museum building, visible at all hours and illuminated at night.
The 4-4-0 "American-style" locomotive Texas served for nearly 51 years on the famous Western & Atlantic Railroad in Georgia, contributing signiﬁcantly to the city of Atlanta’s rise as a railroad center, and ultimately, an international city. The Western & Atlantic ran between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Today, the same railroad is still operating as part of railroad company CSX’s system. The Texas is one of only two surviving Western & Atlantic locomotives; the other is the General.
The Texas we see today is not the same locomotive built in 1856. As with all railroad equipment, the engine was continually upgraded through its service life. The bell stand, frame, and a few other parts remain from 1856, but virtually all other parts—including the cab, boiler, steam and sand domes, smokestack, pilot, and wheels—are replacements dating from the 1870s through the early 1900s. To restore the Texas to its 1856 appearance would mean building a new engine!
restoration date chosen for the Texas is 1886, the year of its last
major upgrade, and also the year The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama
was painted, which was recently moved to the Atlanta History Center. The Texas has
been displayed with the cyclorama since 1927. Both artifacts are owned by
the City of Atlanta and are part of a 75-year lease agreement between the
city and Atlanta History Center.