Stone Mountain locomotive donated to museum

STONE MOUNTAIN - One of the treasures that chugged countless families around Stone Mountain will be permanently displayed at the Southeastern Railway Museum.

The General II, the last steam locomotive to operate under its own power at Stone Mountain Park, has been donated to the Duluth museum.

"It represents something a lot of Georgians have seen in action," museum administrator Randy Pirkle said. "There are lots of people who have visited Stone Mountain and rode the train. It's probably one of the most recognizable pieces in our collection."

The engine was built in 1919 for the Red River & Gulf Railroad.

In 1961, it was acquired by the Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad and rebuilt to resemble the "General," a locomotive made famous during the Civil War by the Andrews Raid.

The engine stopped making regular runs in 1986, making only cosmetic appearances because of the need for expensive boiler repair work. After it developed other mechanical issues, Stone Mountain placed the locomotive on static display in 1991.

Although a date for the move has not been set, the engine will be moved by truck to the Southeastern Railway Museum.

The General II will be the ninth steam engine to join the museum collection, which also includes eight diesel-electric engines, Pirkle said. But it won't be the oldest. That distinction applies to Maude, an 1870-model.

Pirkle said he hopes the new engine will bring more attention to the museum, which hosts between 15,000 and 18,000 visitors a year.

"There are a lot of folks who would like to bring their kids to see the train they rode at Stone Mountain - or their grandkids," he said. "We're looking forward to having it."

Other mementos from Georgia's transportation history are presented on the museum's 30 acres, including a World War II army troop kitchen, railway post office car and maintenance equipment.

The museum, located at 3595 Peachtree Road, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.

Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, $4 for children 2 to 12 and free for children under 2.

On Oct. 6 and 7, the center will host the 5th annual RailFair. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit the Web site www.southeasternrailwaymuseum.org.