Does anyone remember ‘The General’s’ 100th anniversary visit to Gettysburg?
“The General” sits in Gettysburg in 1963, as part of centennial observances of the Battle of Gettysburg. A researcher is looking for an answer to the questions: How did the locomotive – made famous after Union soldiers stole it spawning The Great Locomotive Chase” – get to Gettysburg? And did it pass through York? Also of interest: In Seven Valleys, Pa.: The Great Watermelon Train Wreck and Freight locomotive ‘telescoped’ runaway Stewartstown Railroad car and The unsolved York County mystery of locomotive No. 1689.
Don Wiles was originally from North York borough and now lives in New Jersey (“Don’t tell anyone,” he says).
He had worked for The Gazette and Daily while in high
school. His stepfather, Joe Eisenhart, was fire chief in North York for about 16 years, and his father, Curvin Hess, had moved to Gettysburg and owned the Dobbin House in the 1950s and 60s. He had a diorama there of the battle of Gettysburg.
” I still have some cousins that live in York and I get to visit them once in awhile,” he wrote. “I really miss the food.”
Perhaps that Dobbin House connection fueled his interest in Gettysburg …
Don’s a student of presidential visits to Gettysburg.
In 1963, for the Battle of Gettysburg centennial, “The General” was on the tracks at the Gettysburg Railroad station.
The famed locomotive pulled the train that was stolen by Union soldiers in Georgia. But the Confederates captured them. Some were executed, some imprisoned and some escaped. These were among the first soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor. Disney made a movie about the train episode.
“The train was moved on tracks to Gettysburg, but I have not found if it came through York,” he wrote.
Now that we’re on the cusp of another Gettysburg observance – the 150th – does anyone remember “The General” moving through York County?
Also of interest:
“The General” is on display in the Southern Museum, Kennesaw, Ga. Here’s a brief description on the locomotive’s story from the museum’s website:
“On April 12, 1862, James J. Andrews and a band of Union Civil War spies stole the General locomotive from under the watchful eyes of guards at nearby Confederate Camp McDonald while train passengers and crew were eating breakfast at the Lacy Hotel in Big Shanty, which is now Kennesaw. Andrews and his raiders attempted to travel up to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in an attempt to cause as much damage as possible to the Western & Atlantic Railroad.”
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