Locomotive ‘Texas’ heads to North Carolina despite delays

RELATED TOPICS: STEAM/PRESERVATION | EAST
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TexasRaisedByCrane
The 'Texas' is raised for transport to North Carolina on Monday.
North Carolina Transportation Museum
ATLANTA – The 159-year-old Texas, a Western & Atlantic locomotive from the Civil War era, was successfully removed from its long-time home at the Cyclorama Monday, and today is headed for the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C., for static display restoration. After restoration, it will be transported back to Atlanta for permanent display in a new structure on the grounds of the Atlanta History Center. The Cyclorama building was erected in 1927 in one of Atlanta’s earliest suburbs, Grant Park, which is today adjacent to downtown Atlanta.

“The Texas locomotive symbolizes Atlanta’s longtime relationship with railroads and the city’s importance as a hub for people, commerce, and ideas. No artifact can be more important for telling the story of Atlanta’s beginnings than this Western & Atlantic locomotive,” said History Center CEO Sheffield Hale.

The process of removing the locomotive from the building began at 9 a.m. Monday. To access the locomotive, which was on display in the basement, a large pit was dug alongside the building and the wall was opened up. A construction backhoe, with a steel cable attached, was used to pull the Texas along a temporary “track” out of the building, and spotted just a few feet from the side of the building. The track and locomotive were on a slight upgrade incline because there was a large storm drain at the edge of the pit that could not be disturbed.

Once the locomotive was in place, a large crane was prepared to lift the locomotive out of the pit, and rigging and wheel locks were carefully placed on and around the engine. The best records available to the Atlanta History Center showed that the locomotive weighed 26,000 pounds. While the crane could handle much more than that, the rigging could handle about 40,000 pounds. Once the rigging was attached, the crane began to lift the locomotive, but before the engine was lifted completely off of the ground, the digital scale on the crane showed that that the weight of the engine was reaching 36,000 pounds. Not only was this going to push the rigging to its upper weight limit, weight of the truck and lowboy trailer set to haul it to Spencer became an issue.

Jackson McQuigg, vice president of properties for the Atlanta History Center says that that safety was the first priority, and everyone agreed. The the crane and rigging companies worked through late morning and early afternoon to obtain higher capacity rigging, and arrange for special permits for the heavier truck to move through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Once the new rigging arrived around 3:30 p.m., it was attached to the locomotive, and at approximately 4:15 p.m., the Texas was lifted off of the rails and onto the lowboy trailer. And, the digital scale in the crane showed that the actual weight of the locomotive was 53,000 pounds.

Even though the process was delayed for several hours by the heavier-than-expected Texas, the removal process for both the locomotive and the tender was successfully completed. The locomotive and tender were stored on the trucks at an undisclosed location in Atlanta, and left for North Carolina this morning, just after daybreak.

North Carolina Transportation Museum Executive Director Kelly Alexander says, “We are truly excited about this partnership with the Atlanta History Center and proud that they have entrusted such an amazing artifact to our care. We look forward to showcasing the restoration work and our 57 acre facility to fans of the Texas.”

The Texas, a 4-4-0, entered service in 1856, and served as a freight and passenger locomotive in Atlanta and North Georgia for 51 years tumultuous years in the South, and was retired from service in 1907. The locomotive was placed in the completed Cyclorama building in 1927. Except for two Cyclorama restoration periods, one in 1936 and one between 1979 and 1982, the Texas has remained on display in the building until it was removed yesterday.

For more information on the Atlanta History Center, go to www.atlantahistorycenter.com.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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