The 'Texas' returns!

Is the famed Civil War-era locomotive still who we think it is?
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The Western & Atlantic Railroad's Texas locomotive on display in a new livery at the North Carolina Transportation Museum on Friday, April 28.
TRAINS: Jim Wrinn
SPENCER, N.C. — The locomotive part of the Texas weights less than 30 tons, but it is still big enough to cause a sizeable controversy.

A crowd gathered Friday, April 28, to see the grand unveiling of the American Civil War-era locomotive after a lengthy cosmetic restoration at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The controversy, critics say, comes from the Atlanta History Center's choice of a late-19th century to early-20th century all-black appearance for the locomotive instead of its bright Civil War-era colors. Those critics say the center is trying to erase Civil War history. History center officials counter that is not the case and that they are working with the historic fabric that is available. Officials also say they compromised by keeping the Texas name on the locomotive instead of using it's post-war name, Cincinnati.

The Great Locomotive Chase of Civil War fame, in which the Texas chased the stolen locomotive General across north Georgia, was but a few hours on one day, but the locomotive had a 50-year history on the Western & Atlantic Railroad, the Atlanta History Center’s Gordon Jones told the crowd gathered to witness the debut. He pointed out that the General is restored to its Civil War appearance and is on display where the chase began in Kennesaw, Ga.

“We’ve already got one locomotive telling the story of the Great Locomotive Chase,” he said. “We can utilize the Texas to tell a different story.”

The crowd that gathered Friday at the N.C. Transportation Museum to see the engine seemed oblivious to the debate over the locomotive’s presentation and grateful to see the diminutive engine restored by Steam Operations Corp., a well-established contractor that also restored Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 at Spencer. The Texas posed with 611 and John and Barney Gramling’s Lehigh Coal 0-6-0T No. 126 to mark 100 years of steam history, from the 1850s to the 1950s.

The Texas is on display with a CSX Transportation diesel, the Franklin M. Garrett, a GP38-2 No. 2702, named for the famed Atlanta historian and Atlanta History Center icon. The locomotive returns to the History Center on a truck Tuesday, May 2, and will be installed in a new display building, where it will be visible from the outside 24-hours a day.

The Texas Returns event continues Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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