Showing posts with label civil war. Show all posts
Showing posts with label civil war. Show all posts

Monday, July 16, 2012

The History Around Us

Photo via Chad Elkins

Every year during the Inman Park Festival I pin one or two visitors to the neighborhood stumbling upon a monument and discovering that the very spot where they are buying their funnel cake was once a battleground.  

I have the opposite affliction.  I am the guy who will drive blindly down a dirt road in pursuit of a historic marker dotting a state map.

Before reconnecting with my college buddy Crain Swain on Facebook, I did not realize that there was a name for my obsession - Marker Hunter.  Craig and his compatriots at the Historic Marker Database have amassed an amazing Wikipedia-style catalog of thousands of historic markers, plaques and memorials all around the world.  

This is a must visit site for history geeks, travelers, and family truckster adventurers of all stripes.

HMdb uses Google Maps for directions and search results, making it a snap to find monuments like the James J. Andrews marker tucked away in an obscure block of Midtown Atlanta.  Andrews (the Jimmy Doolittle of the Civil War) was executed near 3rd Street 150 years ago for his exploits in the The Great Locomotive Chase.

Atlanta is chock full of markers, but the HMdb site is foremost a key to finding hidden treasures in lost or forgotten places.  The hunt is what brings history to life!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Chasing the General

Will and Genevieve in Hot Pursuit

Need a perfect day trip for a Thomas the Tank Engine obsessed child or the family Civil War buff? Head north of Atlanta to Kennesaw, GA to visit the newly expanded Southern Museum, and its most famous artifact, the steam engine The General.

Immortalized by Buster Keaton, the theft of The General by James Andrews' ring of spies in 1862 was a sensation in the North and the South. In an effort to prevent reinforcements from Atlanta coming to the defense of Chattanooga, Andrew's Raiders ripped apart sections of the Western and Atlantic rail line, set fires and cut telegraph lines as they rushed towards Union lines in the hijacked train. The conductor of the The General stayed in hot pursuit of the bandits and most of the raiders were captured after the train ran out of fuel.

The conductor, William Fuller, became a Confederate folk hero. Andrews and many of his compatriots met the gallows, but their antics had a Doolittle Raid-type effect for the Union. The first awards of the newly created Medal of Honor were made to thirteen of the soldiers involved in The Great Locomotive Chase.

The Museum is a treasure trove of railroad memorabilia and Civil War artifacts. The General itself is the show stopper. Kids will enjoy the run through Tunnel Hill (above) as well as the park and displays across the street from the Museum.

Want a taste of The General's story in Atlanta? Fuller lays in rest at Oakland Cemetery. You will also find a discrete plaque (on the cemetery wall facing Memorial Drive, across from Doc Chey's) commemorating the Raiders.