On April 12, 1862, one of the Civil War’s most famous incidents began in Big Shanty, present day Kennesaw. The event started when 20 Union spies, led by James Andrews, hijacked the Confederate locomotive The General and steamed north towards Chattanooga. The spies’ mission was to destroy and disrupt the Confederate supply and communications line. The raiders were pursued for eight hours by the stolen locomotive’s conductor William Fuller and Anthony Murphy for a total of 87 miles. The Calhoun Depot and the Oostanaula River Bridge at Resaca played key roles during the great train chase between the General and the Texas. The raid failed, but the daring exploits of all involved became legendary in the annuals of history.
On Saturday, April 14, Calhoun will celebrate the 150th Anniversary of The Great Locomotive Chase at the Historic Gem Theater with festivities kicking off at 3 p.m. Fifty years earlier on this very day, the General once more steamed into Calhoun to celebrate the 100th year Centennial of the event.
The celebration outside includes Civil War reenactors displaying infantry weapons and a cannon along with the Stand Watie Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans greeting guests.
The Gordon County Historical Society will host a signing of the book “Crossroads to Conflict” by author Barry Brown at a reduced price. “Crossroads” is the definitive tour guide loaded with photographs and information on Civil War sites in Georgia and cover many sites in Gordon County. Brown will be at the Gem from 3-6 p.m.
At 3:30 p.m., Gordon County historian Ken Padgett will present a light humored telling of The Great Locomotive Chase as it related to the Calhoun and Resaca area.
The Gem will show the Walt Disney movie, “The Great Locomotive Chase” at 4 p.m. to top off the afternoon activities.
The book signing, storytelling and movie will be provided free to the public by the Gem Theatre in appreciation for community’s support in restoring the historic theatre.
At 7:30 p.m., the Gem and the Gordon County Convention and Visitors Bureau will host the main feature of the celebration with a concert by Mr. Bobby Horton. Horton is America’s most famous musician of Civil War era music mixing humor and stories, as well as using period instruments.
The concert will serve a dual purpose - celebrating the New Harmonies exhibit at the Harris Arts Center and the songs of the period of The Great Locomotive Chase.
Admission for the concert will be $10 for adults and $5 for students.