Civil War Wednesday: Western & Atlantic Railroad

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W&A Map, Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, G3924.D2S5 1864 .W4

During the 1864 Atlanta Campaign, a series of maneuvers, skirmishes, and battles occurred along the line of the Western & Atlantic Railroad throughout northwestern Georgia. The W&A, the only direct-rail connecting Atlanta and Chattanooga, served as the lifeline for both armies, and each also utilized the rail to carry the wounded to various hospital locations. Major General William T. Sherman, fond of calculating logistical needs, determined each locomotive could “…haul a payload of 160,000 pounds…[and] he strove to reach 120 cars per day.”[1] General Joseph E. Johnston, the commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, supplied his force with box cars of provisions from Atlanta. Absent the railroad, the 1864 military action in Georgia, had such occurred, would most assuredly have taken on a much different profile.

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Stephen H. Long, Colorado Historical Society.

Approving construction of what many called at the time the “state line,” the Georgia legislature gave final consent to construction of a railroad running from the Chattahoochee River to the Tennessee line in December 1836. Two years later, former western explorer Stephen H. Long, operating from his Marietta headquarters, oversaw the beginning of the building of the railroad. Economic depression halted construction of the W&A in late 1841; almost one year passed before dirt began moving again. In early 1843, workers completed a stretch from Marthasville (present day Atlanta) to Marietta. Overcoming the challenge of Chetoogeta Mountain outside Dalton, workers finished a tunnel through the hillside (Tunnel Hill) on May 9, 1850, and for the first time, passengers could traverse, unimpeded, the 138-mile trip from Chattanooga to Atlanta.[2]

Advancing deeper into Georgia, Sherman exercised great caution in protecting his line of supply, and indicated in a post-war account, “I doubt whether the history of war can furnish more examples of skill and bravery than attended the defense of the railroad from Nashville to Atlanta during the year 1864.”[3] Johnston, after President Jefferson Davis relived him of command in favor of General John Bell Hood, expressed the importance of the W&A, and how this vital rail line had factored into his strategic plan, which circumstances prevented him from fulfilling. The Virginian suggested he “…hoped to be able to break, or to procure the breaking of, the railroad by which the invading army was supplied, and thus compel it to assail ours on our own terms, or to a retreat easily converted into a rout.”[4]

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Alfred Waud sketch of the water tanks along the W&A in Big Shanty, LC-DIG-ppmsca-20204

During the coming months, as we commemorate many sesquicentennial events throughout northwest Georgia, recall the importance of the Western and Atlantic Rail Road, realize the various battles occurred in specific locations because of this line, and remember, as did Sherman, without the W&A,“…the Atlanta campaign was an impossibility….”[5]



[1] Lee Kennett, Sherman: A Soldier’s Life (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 239.

[2] About North Georgia, Building the Western and Atlantic Railroad, http://www.aboutnorthgeorgia.com/ang/Building_the_Western_and_Atlantic_Railroad (accessed April 18, 2014).

[3] William Tecumseh Sherman, Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman (New York: Penguin Books, 2000), 518.

[4] Joseph E. Johnston, Narrative of Military Operations during the Civil War, A Da Capo paperback (1874; repr., New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press, 1990), 358.

[5] William Tecumseh Sherman, Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman, 751.

shafferMichael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center , a Civil War historian, newspaper columnist, and author of ‘Washington County, Virginia in the Civil War.’ He is a member of the Society of Civil War Historians, Historians of the Civil War Western Theater, Georgia Association of Historians, and the Civil War Round Table of Atlanta. Michael also serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and Center Combined Logo-page-001as a Civil War consultant for the Friends of Camp McDonald.

Geocaching in Georgia

Seminole State Park

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game. Geocachers use a GPS (or a smartphone) to navigate to a set of GPS coordinates in an attempt to find the Geocache (container) that is hidden at the location. After you find the geocache, you sign the log and replace it exactly how you found it so the next person can find it. Many “caches” are hidden in locations that are important to people, have historical significance or are just plain cool! With more than 2 million Geocaches hidden all over the world, there is always something to explore!

 Why go Geocaching?

LizYou can’t find a geocache while sitting on your couch, so it gives you a reason to get up and get active! It’s a great way to get the little ones away from the TV and encourage them to explore nature. In fact, Georgia’s State Parks have an awesome Geo-Tour. Geocacher can pick up a free passport and search out the special cache at each State Park that contains a stamp. Fill up your passport with stamps for the chance to earn prizes.

There is also a historic site series where geocachers can solve puzzles to unlock the cache and collect cards for each. This is a clever way to combine a history lesson with fun!

Geocaching is a great hobby that gets you outside to explore and it is a wonderful way to spend quality time with family and friends.

Geocaching also provides a way to entertain the adventurous spirit in all of us because you never know where it will take you or what you will find! Some caches are cleverly disguised, while others will require you to find clues or solve puzzles. Be sure to put on your thinking cap, because it’s not only exercising your body, but your mind as well. In fact, a 14-month study called GEAR (Geocaching for Exercise Activity Research) by Texas A & M proved that geocaching can improve mental health as well as physical health.

Geocaching is also a great way to meet other people. From families who go caching with their kids, to retirees who travel the country, we have met some amazing people during our Geocaching adventures. One of our most motivational friends is Jim, a 74-year old retiree that has turned to Geocaching as an exercise tool, as well as a form of entertainment. Even after two hip replacements, he is out there hunting down caches daily. One of the first things he ever said to us was, “I could die sitting in front of the TV or I could die doing what I love.”

Whether you are a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, old, young, single, or with a family, there is something for everyone to enjoy about Geocaching. So get out there, enjoy the beautiful weather and find your own adventure through Geocaching.

JoshLizJosh & Liz from Peanuts or Pretzels are married travel bloggers who absolutely love to travel around the world, and getting to know the culture and the people who live there.  Our goal is to inform, inspire, and entertain.  We enjoy sharing our travel experiences and helpful travel tips with others through our travel blog.  The two of us are always up for laughter, a good adventure, and a bit of geocaching too!

10 Things to Do at Atlanta Motorama

MotoramaSide1001

Sure, there’ll be a lot of vehicles at Atlanta Motor Speedway April 26-27 during an event that will celebrate anything with a motor in it, the Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama presented by Classic Collectors Insurance & zMAX. But that’s only the beginning of everything that’ll be taking up the entire AMS infield during this inaugural event!

Here are ten things that you’ll need to be sure to see and do at Motorama!

1. Celebrating anything with an engine!

Classic and modern cars, boats, motorcycles and planes, some which are rarely seen by the public, will be on display! Rare vehicles in the Speedway Salon, set aside for the most valuable vehicles, will include a 1939 Packard convertible sedan and a Dusenburg Some of the ars from Truett Cathy’s Collection will also be on display in the Show area.

2. Car-crushing exhibition by BIGFOOT®

That’s right! One of the world’s most famous monster trucks will be putting on two demonstrations of destroying cars twice each day! The exhibitions, presented by Summit Racing Equipment, are scheduled twice daily near turn three of the Speedway Saturday at 10:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. and at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

3. Hot Rodders of Tomorrow.

See high school-aged students show off their engine-building skills as they take apart and rebuild engines in timed competition. The event will take place in Atlanta Motor Speedway’s victory lane.

4. Massive Vendor Midway

The Summit Racing Equipment Atlanta Motorama midway will rival any collection of vendors seen at America’s biggest car shows with nearly 200 vendors signed up so far!

10255811_10152314549170798_1737973566491185612_n5. Lawnmower racing

These aren’t your everyday landscaping machines! Racing among lawn mowers will take place multiple times during the two day event near turn three of the Speedway.

6. Classic Vehicle Auction

Have you watched vehicle auctions on TV and wanted to see one for yourself? You’ll have that chance at Motorama as Four Seasons Auction Gallery will be conducting one of the largest vehicle auctions in the Southeast!

7. American Street Car Series Autocross Presented by AARP

What would a car event be without some autocross? Scheduled for twice each day, autocross is open to all car show entries, including seasoned autocross veterans or first timers!

8. Seminars

Auto enthusiasts of all types can obtain a wealth of information on varying topics through the Motorama seminars.

9. Pull-A-Part Swap Meet

Here is your chance buy, sell, trade or just search for parts for your vehicle or for one that you’re dreaming of!

10252113_220951011437228_7054337798045434_n10. Drive the track!

Each car show entry at Motorama is eligible to take part in the Speedway Cruise each day, enabling each vehicle to drive on the Atlanta Motor Speedway’s racing surface! Car show entry for the entire event is $50. For more information, visit www.atlantamotorama.com

- See more at: http://www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/media/news/five-things-summit-racing-equipment-atlanta-motorama-presented-classic-collectors-insurance-zmax.html#sthash.BXjVCyLa.dpuf

Surprising Suburb: Vidalia & The Golden Onion Competition

Onions abound throughout the festival and the competition.

Onions abound throughout the festival and the competition.

Ten chefs compete for the Golden Onion trophy Sunday afternoon, April 27 preparing the sweetest of all onions right in the land where they grow – Vidalia, Georgia.

Sounds like a solid reason for a culinary holiday that happens in the midst of a 37-year-old festival. And it’s free.

Miss the 2014 version and mail order Vidalia onions to satisfy you until next April. This professional chef cooking competition is an annual affair.

Expect more than sweet and savory aromas; the Golden Onion lets visitors up close to the chefs: watching, learning, talking, tasting.

Golden Onion trophy stays with chef one year until the next competition.

Golden Onion trophy stays with chef one year until the next competition.

Chef competitors each prepare eight plates — five presented to judges, one for photography, two plates to raffle. Recipe books provide competition entries for $10.00

Why the excitement? This is the onion with a protective federal market order and a museum. Only onion I ever knew about with a pledge!

When you see the letters VO inside a little onion sketch on a menu, it means the restaurant owner pledged never declare it a Vidalia if not so.

Intrigue in growing these sweet treasures is nothing new. Guess that’s why Bob Stafford is known in Vidalia as the “onion high sheriff.”

He keeps everybody honest, enforcing the federal order naming 13 full counties and parts of seven as the only true Vidalia sources. Plus, he’s a judge in the cooking competition.

Stafford’s office is in the Onion Museum where the story of sandy soils explains the special sweetness.

I do believe I’d like to meet the 100 or so farmers in these counties growing real-deal certified Vidalia onions. Family farming does mean something in America.

Onions come in six sizes, from peewee to colossal.

Onions come in six sizes, from peewee to colossal.

Seems it’s sulfur that makes an onion pungent, maybe even hot, but South Georgia sandy soil lets the sulfur leach and the onions grow sweet.

Vidalia’s are softer than western onions, and every one is hand planted and hand picked.

Mostly they ship fresh but 10,000 onions can be stored in tightly sealed rooms of nitrogen and carbon dioxide—only three percent oxygen at temperature of 35 degrees.

In addition to visiting the Onion Museum, I recommend talking to the Convention and Visitor Bureau before you go to see about a tour, or at least some conversations with the onion experts.

Christine 12. 2007 4Christine Tibbetts claimed Georgia as her home state in 1972.  She covers Georgia destinations, and the world, always offering prompts for exceptional experiences and opportunities to muse. Tibbetts earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the prestigious School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and is the recipient of numerous gold, silver and merit awards from North American Travel Journalists Association writing competitions. Follow her at www.TibbettsTravel.com.

“Gone with the Wind” 75th Anniversary Celebration

Façade of the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum; credit: Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum

Façade of the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum; credit: Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum

Mark the calendar and summon your inner Southern belle for a trip to Marietta, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta, during the first weekend in June for a special 75th anniversary tribute celebration to Gone With the Wind, the movie. Don a hoop skirt during the costume ball, cheer on actors during a live play, mingle with celebrity guests – and grab an autograph or two, and join in an author’s forum all to celebrate the beloved Margaret Mitchell classic. The excitement will simply have you exclaiming, “fiddledee!”

While visiting, take time to explore the state’s first and only designated Gone With the Wind Trail. Through the Trail, fans of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel can discover the history and legacy behind one of the world’s most beloved books while navigating a variety of stops in and around Atlanta. Noted by CNN as one of the top 50 things to experience in America’s 50 states, Georgia’s Gone With the Wind Trail begins at The Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square, a mainstay in downtown Marietta since April 2003 when it opened in the historic Old Thomas Warehouse Building. With an extensive collection of memorabilia provided by Dr. Chris Sullivan, the museum is sure to delight and intrigue any Gone With the Wind fan, from novice to aficionado. Highlights include the original Bengaline honeymoon gown worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in the movie, several of Margaret Mitchell’s personal volumes of the novel, an educational display dedicated to the African American cast members, foreign editions of the novel and more. Be sure to stop by the gift shop to find costumes to fit your favorite Rhett or Scarlett.

Visit www.GWTWMarietta.com for complete event details.

Event listing

June 6-8

Marietta Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of Gone With the Wind

Throughout the weekend, the Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square will host a variety of events celebrating the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind, the movie. Festivities to include dinner and costume ball, author’s forum, live play, documentary debut, celebrity guests, autograph signing and much more.

Marietta Gone With the Wind Museum: Scarlett on the Square, 18 Whitlock Avenue, Marietta, GA 30064

770-794-5576