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Explosive commemorations as Marietta, Kennesaw, other towns recall Great Locomotive Chase

By Jennifer Brett
jbrett@ajc.com

Marietta’s gonna get that boom-boom POW on Sunday afternoon when a cannon fires (blanks) in the Confederate Cemetery off Powder Springs Street near the downtown square.

The demonstration will be part of an event from 1 to 5 p.m. capping Marietta’s “Great Locomotive Chase Weekend,” featuring a slew of  festivities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Union plot to steal The General.

The Disney film about the April 12, 1862 heist, “The Great Locomotive Chase,” had its first Southern premiere at the Strand Theatre in 1956. Thursday night, a capacity crowd packed the restored theater to watch Union spies swipe The General, only to be thwarted by conductor William Fuller and the Confederate cavalry.

“History runs through our town like the railroad tracks,” Marietta Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin told the audience. Russell Bonds, author of “Stealing the General,” introduced the film. The evening’s special guests included William Fambrough and Wilbur Kurtz III, descendants of Fuller’s, and Gordon Smith, a descendant of Jacob Parrott and Wilson Brown, who were awarded the Medal of Honor for their roles in the Union raid.

” I have come to embrace my Yankee brethren,” Tumlin joked.

The crowd included U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey and former U.S. Reps. Buddy Darden and Bob Barr; Betsy and Robert Kelley, Shannon and Ford Bohannon, Sally and Hugh Macaulay and Sally and Gregg Litchfield.

Following the screening, patrons packed into the elevator for dessert and champagne on Strand’s fourth-floor terrace. “Is there room for a damn Yankee?” a guest with a Northern accent quipped as the elevator reached its limit. A theatrical pause ensued before the Rev. Sam Storey made way and his wife Carolyn Storey mused, “Yes. The War is over.”

Great Locomotive Chase commemorations

Here are highlights of observances in communities along the Chase route northwest out of Atlanta. Details, more events: www.gacivilwar.org/events/search/.

Marietta
The Cobb County seat is amid four days of movie screenings, tours,  talks and exhibits, through April 15. For more details, visit www.mariettacivil war.com.
Some highlights include:

  • 2 Rules Fine Art will hosts three different slide presentations/book signings by Civil War historian Clint  Johnson at 11 a.m., 2:30 and 6 p.m. April 14 (www.2rulesfineart.com).
  • At 8 p.m. April 14, the Strand will screen Buster Keaton’s “The Genenal” with a pre-show concert of Civil  War-vintage music and live organ accompaniment by Ron Carter. $10; students and seniors, $8.75. www.earlsmithstrand.org
  • A highlight on April 14  is the “Texas III and Me Tour: From the  Rails to the Road.” The tours  offered from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Marietta’s Glover Park  to Kennesaw’s Southern Museum will be aboard the Texas III, a replica of  the historic locomotive (now housed at Atlanta’s Cyclorama) handcrafted  by the East Point VFW (770-429-1115). $25, $20 students/seniors, $15 under 12. At 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the 8th Regiment Band of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry will perform a free  concert of Civil War-era music in Glover Park  (www.eighthregimentband.net).
  • On April 15, “Garden of Heroes” will be unveiled at Marietta Confederate Cemetery following the observance of Confederate Memorial  Day beginning at 1 p.m. The bronze statues by T.J. Dixon and James Nelson  depict a mother and son leaving the cemetery after visiting the grave of  their loved one.

Kennesaw
The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History, where the General has remained on view since 1972, continues its observance 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 14-15 with “Camp  McDonald: A Living History Weekend,” featuring reenactment groups  interpreting life in the Confederate encampment that was sited across  the tracks from the museum. $5, $2 ages 4-12 (includes museum  admission). 770-427-2117, www.southernmuseum.org/sesquicentennial.

Emerson
Historians and re-enactors recount the Great Locomotive Chase speeding through Allatoona Pass,  10 a.m.-noon April 21. $5 parking.  770-975-0055. I-75 exit 283, east 1.5 miles to Allatoona Pass Battlefield. 770-975-0055, www.georgiastate parks.org/redtopmountain.

Calhoun
On April 14, Chase-themed programming in or outside the Gem Theatre begins at 3 p.m. with Civil War re-enactors displaying infantry weapons and a cannon. At 3:30 p.m., Gordon County historian Ken Padgett gives  a talk about the area’s role in the chase. At 4 p.m., a free screening  of “The Great Locomotive Chase.” Bobby Horton performs a concert of  Civil War-era music at 7:30 p.m. ($10; $5 students). 114 N. Wall St.;  706-625-3132; www.calhoungem.org.

Dalton
Dalton Little Theater actors  will portray Civil War characters during Spirit Walk at West Hill Cemetery. 5 p.m. April 14; 3 p.m., 3:30, 4 p.m. April 15. A social hour will take  place at West Hill Chapel after each tour. West Cuyler Street. $12.   www.glctour.eventbrite.com.

–Compiled by Howard Pousner

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