Texas debut party notes... before today's clothes go up in smoke

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Friday, April 28, 2017

So I am beat from a 12-hour day in the field. Preparing our live streaming gear for today’s debut of the steam locomotive Texas put me on site at the N.C. Transportation Museum early this morning and I’ll be  back again Saturday. I am pretty well fried. I want to take a shower at the hotel and burn my clothes. But first, I want to share a few things that surprised and delighted me at the debut of the restored Civil War locomotive, rolled out today for the first time for its restoration party.

First, Gordon Jones, curator of the Atlanta History Center, makes a compelling argument about the presentation of the locomotive as late 1800s/early 1900s locomotive. The Great Locomotive Chase, which gained the locomotive its fame, but was for six hours of one day in April 1862. The rest of the locomotive’s life working for the Western & Atlantic was 50 years. The history center aims to make the Texas its locomotive to tell the story of railroads, growth, and development of the city … appropriate for a city that had a 4-4-0 American type on its official emblem for years.

Second, in the crowd of almost 1,000 on hand for the debut was one Tom Burns of Florida, who was inconspicuous in his University of Georgia hat. But he has a close personal connection. His great-great grandfather was Peter Bracken, the brave W&A engineer who fearlessly ran the Texas in reverse at high speeds to catch up with the stolen General.  Said Tom, “ I don’t feel comfortable about the engine moving unless it is in reverse.”

Third, the only pieces of the Texas that are actually left from 1856 are a few pieces of the frame and the bell hanger bracket, which is a duplicate of the one on the General, the Texas’ prey in the chase.

Fourth, when attending such events, always, always, always come early and stay late because that’s when the good stuff happens. Case in point, the line up of CSX predecessor locomotives
(left to right, ACL 1031, SAL 544, Texas, ACL 501, C&O painted 8016 and CSX geep), featuring the Texas and freshly painted CSX GP38-2 No. 2702, the Franklin M. Garrett.

We’ll continue our live streaming Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and you can see videos of today’s rollout on our Facebook page. Look for coverage of the locomotive in our July issue. Now, to burn those clothes….

 

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