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This Day in Georgia History

March 24, 1939

Resolution to Return “General” to Georgia

Gov. E.D. Rivers signed a joint resolution of the General Assembly calling for the return of the Civil War locomotive “General” - then in the possession of the city of Chattanooga, Tenn., where it was a popular tourist attraction. The joint resolution specified that the General should be relocated to Kennesaw, Georgia., where the federal government was planning a national battlefield park at Kennesaw Mountain. Georgia lawmakers called for the return of the General as soon as the city could build a suitable building to house the historic locomotive. Unfortunately, Chattanooga had no interest in giving up its Civil War attraction. In 1962, Chattanooga officials allowed the General to leave Tennessee in order restage the Great Locomotive Chase from Kennesaw to Ringgold, Georgia, although ownership of the train would be determined in federal court. Once the courts ruled in favor of Georgia, work began on a new museum in Kennesaw to serve as permanent home of the General. The museum was completed in early February 1972. Under the cloak of much secrecy, the engine was taken to a rail line near the Georgia state capitol, where Gov. Jimmy Carter formally took possession of it on behalf of Georgia. The General was then transported to the new Big Shanty Museum in Kennesaw where, on February 19, it was proudly displayed at the museum’s official opening. The Big Shanty Museum later was renamed the Kennesaw Civil War Museum, and today is known as the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. It serves as permanent home of the General.