The General Becomes An Oil Burner

The General undergoing restoration, south Louisville shops of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, 1962.

Photo by C. Norman Beasley, L&NRR

The overhaul was completed, and on February 7, 1962, the General was placed under steam again and operated under her own power for the first time since 1914. Now she was an oil burner, thus making refueling easier. The job had been a labor of love for the L&N employees who did all the work, and they were extremely proud of the job they had done. The boiler had passed a hydrostatic test at 175 pounds pressure, but her working pressure was reduced to 125 pounds which was quite adequate for her mission. On that windswept winter afternoon the old General came steaming out of the shops with her bell ringing and her whistle blowing, and she moved about a hundred feet to the "slip track." There, on well oiled rails, she thrashed her drivers while the shop men inspected her motion work in motion and made the necessary adjustments. After this trial movement the General was taken back to the Shops, repainted in red, yellow, and black and made ready for the road.

The General during restoration in south Louisville shops, February 1962.

– Photo by Edison H. Thomas, L&NRR

The General, first time under steam during restoration, February 7, 1962, south Louisville shops slip track, Louisville, Kentucky.

– Photo by Edison H. Thomas, L&NRR

On March 28, 1962, the open platform, wooden, Jim Crow type combine car No. 665, built in 1913 and painted a bright yellow, was hooked up to the General and she was off for a trial run to Lebanon, Kentucky with officials and press aboard.

It turned out to be quite a long trip – 17 hours and 50 minutes – and many things went wrong. Still, it was a successful trip; they found out what the General could do and how long fuel and water would last. The engine could go about 80 miles without refueling, requiring water every 25 miles on the average.

Civil War Centennial Years

The trip was a dress rehearsal for the big run scheduled for April 14th. It was quite a thrill for those aboard to listen to the quiet exhaust of saturated steam as the General moved along. It was hard for some of the passengers to realize that they were riding behind the engine that James J. Andrews and seven others were hung for stealing in 1862, and that it was then 1962.

The General at Ringgold. Georgia, April 14, 1962.


Ringgold, Georgia, April 14, 1962, after the General and Car 665 had passed.

On April 3, 1962, the General had another special run to make before her historic debut on April 14th. This time the passengers were members of the Board of Directors of the L&NRR, and the run was from Anchorage, Kentucky.

The big day for the General was April 14, 1962 – bigger perhaps than April 12,1862. This was the date for the reenactment of the The Great Locomotive Chase on its 100th Anniversary. April 14th was chosen rather than April 12th because the 14th fell on a Saturday. It was a very busy day for the W&A Division of the L&NRR. Some 100,000 spectators were expected along the line from Kennesaw, renamed Big Shanty for the day, northward. There were two special trains of 14 and 15 cars each, respectively, with 1,400 passengers following from Atlanta to Chattanooga. The passengers represented 38 states from California to New Hampshire, and Canada and West Germany. In addition there were two sections of the southbound Georgian, a southbound freight, the northbound Dixie Flyer and a light diesel following the General just in case – all this on a single track railroad. L&N trainmaster Vernon W. Ayers was in overall charge, and all train movements went well; the General reached Chattanooga within a few minutes of the eight hours scheduled.

The General at the Tilford Yard of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, Atlanta, Georgia, April 12, 1962, just prior to rerun on April 14, 1962.

The General at Atlanta, Georgia, April 12, 1962.
Two train orders, Form 19, were issued by the L&N dispatcher pertaining to the movement of the General on April 14th. The first order, No. 868, was issued at 11:57 PM, April 13, 1962, to Conductors and Engineers of all northbound trains. "Account Engine General being run under full control between Atlanta and Chattanooga looking out for vehicular and pedestrian travel on and near tracks particularly through towns." The second order, No. 501, was issued at 4:12 AM to Conductor and Engineer of the "Engine General, Western & Atlantic 3. Engine General, Western & Atlantic 3, run passenger extra Tilford to Chattanooga." There were no mishaps in spite of the large crowds along the way and the heavy traffic on the W&A Division.
The Early Days | During the Civil War | The War Ends, Repairs, Back In Service | Rebuilt & Converted | Important Railroad Achievement | 1887 | 1888-1889 | 1890-1891 | 1892-1897 | The General On Display | Gone With the Wind | Custody Battles Begin | Custody Battle No. 2 | The General Is "Stolen" Again | The General Becomes An Oil Burner | Civil War Centennial Years | The General's Biggest Day | At the New York World's Fair | Georgia Asks For The General | Custody Battle No.3 | A New Home For The General | The General's Final Journey | General's Final Journey -In Color

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