Late on the morning of Saturday, April 12th 1862 a Western and Atlantic Railroad freight train pulled into the depot at Adairsville Ga. The train was pulled by the locomotive #49 named The Texas. Up until now it had been a normal day for the trains' engineer, Pennsylvania born Peter J. Bracken. He and his crew had left Dalton earlier aboard The Texas, its tender and 21 freight cars. At Adairsville they were shunted to a siding waiting for a southbound passenger train from Chattanooga. As they waited another W&A locomotive, The General, came alongside. Instead of its' scheduled passenger train, The General had only its tender and 3 boxcars. The stranger in the cab told them he was hauling desperately need ammunition for General Beauregard in Chattanooga. As soon as the road was clear, The General pulled out headed toward Calhoun. A few minutes later The Texas continued south toward Kingston.
Two miles south of Adairsville Bracken came to a stop when he met William Fuller running north along the tracks. Fuller, the conductor for the passenger train The General had been pulling, informed them that The General had been stolen earlier that morning while stopped for breakfast in Marietta. The men who took The General were Union soldiers dressed as civilians and took the General as part of a plan to disrupt the rail line between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Fuller knew Bracken and they quickly agreed to chase the thieves. They backed up to the station, unhooked the cars and steamed in reverse after the fleeing General for 50 miles. Ultimately, the General ran out of wood and the raiders abandoned the engine 2 miles north of Ringgold, Georgia but were captured. Some were hung as spies and six escaped. The General was towed back to Adairsville, Georgia where 21 rail cars were retrieved and continued to Atlanta. The General is currently in a museum in Marietta.
The Texas was built in 1856 in New Jersey at a cost of $9050. Originally, a wood burning steam engine she was later converted to coal by her owners the Western Atlantic Rail Road (W&ARR).Restoration and relocation to the Atlanta History Center will occur in 2017 when a new building is completed. The building will also house the restored Confederate Cyclorama.
After the famous incident the Texas and 9 boxcars were loaned to the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad to haul salt and cargo in 1863. While in Virginia she was captured by Union forces and became part of the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR). As Sherman advanced on Atlanta, W&ARR engines and 46 other locomotives were captured but not destroyed. All the locomotives were returned to service during reconstruction to the State of Georgia on September 25, 1865. In 1870 the W&ARR Company was leased for 20 years to private investors led by former Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown. During this period the Texas was renamed the Cincinnati, number 12. She was also refitted with a new boiler (1877) to burn coal and re-gauged to the national standard rail gauge. In 1890 the W&ARR lease was renewed to the Nashville, Chattanooga & St Louis Railway and renumbered to number 212. In 1895 the Texas was removed from mainline service to serve a corn mill in Emerson, Georgia until when she was retired in 1907 and sent to the Atlanta W&ARR rail yard.
From this time the Texas lay in a deteriorated state. Efforts by the Atlanta Constitution instigated fundraising efforts to no avail. John W. Thomas offered to donate the engine to either the State of Georgia or the City of Atlanta. During her time of service she was rebuilt and modified. The original smokestack and iron cattle catcher were removed and replaced.
In 1936 the Texas was restored by William B. Kurtz cosmetically to resemble what was believed to appear during the war. The Texas was moved to Grant Park and later to the basement of the Cyclorama. In 1972 a plan was developed to renovate the Cyclorama building including a complete restoration of the Cyclorama painting and enlarge the display area of the Texas. The project began in 1979 and completed in 1982. In 2014 the City of Atlanta announced that the restored Cyclorama collection, artifacts, and Texas locomotive was to be relocated to the Atlanta History Museum. The removal is ongoing currently (2015) with a completion target of 2018 for all to view our history.