Steaming Down South - Tour Report
For a few days in June the center of the steam car world was focused
in a new place and for the first time the annual East Coast Steam Car tour
came to Rome, Georgia. Twenty-seven steam cars with their owners, friends,
and families traveled to Rome from seventeen states to participate in the
first tour to be held in the Deep South. Many of the participants had never
been to Georgia, and the tour was designed to give them an opportunity
to tour Northwest Georgia and Alabama and to learn about the history and
topography of the area. The annual tours are not just an opportunity
to get together with fellow steam car owners and put some miles on the
cars but for those who have participated in multiple tours it turns into
old home week. The intensity of the conversations and the enjoyment of
seeing old friends and meeting new ones were apparent at every gathering
of the group.
Firing up and touring was the main order of the week and it kicked
off with an optional tour on Sunday afternoon. Several cars made the 45-mile
route and found it a good to way to get started and work any last minute
kinks out of their cars. The Firing Up Banquet on Sunday evening
followed the tour.
Monday’s trip to Barnsley Gardens was a short trip designed to give
everyone an opportunity to get unloaded and get the cars checked out after
the long haul. Barnsley Gardens is the location of an exclusive
resort and it piqued the interest of many of the steam tourists. We had
a nice lunch in the beer garden at Barnsley Gardens, and several individuals
expressed an interest in coming back to stay at the resort.
Tuesday’s tour was an opportunity to see the countryside and it was
also the longest day at 115 miles. The day’s destination was Jacksonville,
Alabama and it also marked the first time a steam car tour has traveled
into Alabama. The day’s first stop was in Cave Spring, Georgia. As the
name implies Cave Spring has a huge natural spring that has supplied water
to the city for years. There is a park in the middle of town with
a lake fed from the spring and it was an ideal spot for siphoning water
tanks full. Leaving Cave Spring the group traveled to Jacksonville by way
of Piedmont, Alabama. This route used some great scenic back roads with
the Talledega National Forest and Duggar Mountain, the second highest point
in Alabama as a backdrop. In Jacksonville the group had a great buffet
lunch at The Barn restaurant. The restaurant is an old barn that has been
converted from its original use as a dairy barn. What makes it unusual
it that it was constructed of cast concrete not too many years after the
Stanley brothers built their cast concrete factory building in Watertown,
Massachusetts. The Stanley’s building is supposed to be the first cast
concrete building ever constructed.
Everyone learned about Georgia’s Cherokee Indian Heritage on Wednesday
when we traveled to New Echota, which was the capital of the Cherokee Indian
tribe which lived in Georgia prior and during the arrival of the settlers
from Europe. They learned about the history the Cherokees, as well
as their forced removal by the United States government to what is now
Oklahoma on what is known as “The Trail of Tears”. The lunch stop
for the day was to be “on your own”, however, a small barbecue restaurant
in the small community of Rosedale, Georgia was suggested in the list of
restaurants, and it was reported that so many of the steam tourists crowded
into the restaurant that they ran out of food! But it was good southern
barbecue and enjoyed by all of those who partook.
Thursday was another 100-mile day that that took everyone to Kennesaw,
Georgia to see the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History.
The museum features the steam locomotive “The General”, which was stolen
by Union Raiders during the War Between the States in an effort to destroy
the railroad between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Confederates
recaptured the locomotive after an 80-mile chase, and it has been preserved
to commemorate the event. The museum also contains other exhibits
pertaining to the war. It is also is host to a collection from the closed
Glover Machine Works of Marietta, Georgia. Glover Machine built locomotives
from 1900 to 1930 and until the plant was torn down in 1995 it was a literal
time capsule of early 20th century factory technology. Two of the uncompleted
Glover locomotives are now in the Kennesaw Museum along with many patterns,
tools, and machinery from the factory. The tour route directed the
group along a series of back roads to Kennesaw, which is only 25 miles
from Atlanta, Georgia, the largest city in the state. The museum
set up a special parking area for the group complete with a water hose
to fill water tanks. The trip back included a stop by Kennesaw Mountain,
a preserved National Battlefield Park that was the site of one of the many
battles on the march to Atlanta during the War Between the States.
Several of the group got a late start returning to Rome and along with
scattered heavy rain and several mechanical problems the last of the group
did not get back until 8:30 PM with one car coming back on a trailer even
Friday’s tour was short trip to Berry College in Rome. The college
is a small private institution founded by Martha Berry at the turn of the
20th century to give the poor children of Appalachia an opportunity to
work and get an education. The college spreads out over 28,000 acres making
it the largest in the world. It is a beautiful place and part of the group
drove around the campus through the nature preserve and viewed the massive
waterwheel that is part of a formerly operating mill. After touring
the Berry campus most of the tourists got back to the hotel early, loaded
cars, and got ready for evening’s Blowdown Banquet. On Saturday morning
everyone got an early start headed for home.
The steam car hobby is fortunate to have strong interest from younger
drivers. This year’s recipient of the Young Driver Award was Adam Walkup.
He struggled with a car just recently purchased and out of long storage
but persevered and was successful on his first steam tour. Last year’s
recipient of the award Sam Kirkpatrick was on hand to present the trophy
to the new winner and was also seen piloting the family Stanley during
the week. Another young driver Jim Helbling demonstrated the skills it
takes to successfully drive a Stanley during the week’s tours. Sister in
law Christina Johnson as a novice steam car driver successfully logged
road miles behind the wheel of two different Stanley’s during the week.
Jim Schukay was seen driving Jim Keith’s big green Stanley. Bruce Green
Junior brought his late father’s White to the tour and managed to get it
get it fired up and running around the parking lot which is pretty impressive
for a novice White driver. New Stanley museum board member Lyn Curry was
nominated for they young driver award until they checked the date on his
driver’s license. Without son Robbie to give him advice novice steam car
driver Lyn spent the week practicing his driving skills. He also persevered
after suffering a pair of cracked perch poles on the first day’s run.
There were the typical mechanical problems during the week but there
were no scorched boilers or ruined cylinder blocks. Probably the worst
mechanical failure was a split D-valve in the Stanley’s Museum’s Model
70. Problems with oil pumps, cracked perch poles, a blown superheater
and balky burners were seen but for the most part they did not keep cars
Encounters with the local constabulary were one of the themes for
the week. On the return trip from Barnsley Gardens on Monday Bob Nydam’s
1911 Stanley experienced a flat tire. An eyewitness reported coming on
the scene to find a county Sheriff pumping up the newly mounted tire on
Bob’s car. The report described the officer with a grin on his face!
The second close encounter with the local authorities occurred on Tuesday’s
tour in Jacksonville, AL. It seems that a Stanley driver forgot to check
the local speed limits and got the kind of blue light special that
K-Mart does not offer. Fortunately the officer was understanding and let
the offender off with a verbal warning. The final close encounter happened
on the Thursday trip to Kennesaw, GA when the movement of a house blocked
a street near Kennesaw and interrupted one of the steam car drivers. Misinterpreting
a flagman’s signal to proceed and pass the house was rewarded with another
opportunity to meet a representative of the local law enforcement. The
end result was a verbal warning.
The only sad note of the tour was the untimely passing of Norm Miller.
Norm had been in poor health but as friend Howard Randall pointed out in
his eulogy of Norm at the Blowdown banquet he made a special effort to
travel to Georgia from his home in Chicago to be on the tour because that
is where he wanted to be. He will be missed.
Daily Tour Description
Monday’s Tour - BARNSLEY GARDENS
Our first tour takes us to Barnsley Gardens, a beautiful
spot with various types of recreation available and with an interesting
history. Barnsley Gardens was built by a transplanted Englishman,
Godfrey Barnsley, for his wife, Julia Scarborough of Savannah, and their
children. Before the house was completed, Julia died and Godfrey
was left with six children to care for. The house remained unfinished
for a year and then Godfrey completed the house and gardens and it became
known as Woodlands. The house was completed sometime in the 1840’s.
It was not damaged in the War Between the States; but, in 1906, a tornado
destroyed much of the house and forced the family to live in the remaining
part of the house. Descendants of Godfrey and Julia lived in the
house until 1940 when it was sold at auction. Prince Hubertus Fugger
of Bavaria purchased the estate in 1988 and transformed the property into
a luxury resort.
Tuesday’s Tour – Jacksonville, Alabama
On our tour today, we will be going to Jacksonville, Alabama
for lunch at an interesting place. This place, called “The Barn”,
is part of what was a large farm dating back to the early part of the last
century. The barn, in which we will eat lunch, is made of cast concrete,
which was very unusual for that time, was built in 1911. If you remember,
the Stanley brothers built their factory in Newton, Massachusetts of cast
concrete because they could not get brick masons to work on it. It
was, apparently, the first cast concrete building to be built. It
is not known whether there was a shortage of other building materials in
Jacksonville or not, but, for some reason, the barn was built of concrete.
Of course, the building has been renovated to make a very nice restaurant,
while retaining the flavor of the original building. Jacksonville
is a college town with Jacksonville State University having an enrollment
of 10,000 students.
On our way to Jacksonville, we will go through the small town of
Cave Spring, Georgia. The name of the town comes from a cave, in
the middle of the town, from which the spring flows. The flow from
the spring never stops, summer or winter, flood or drought; it produces
over one million gallons of water a day. Investigation has shown
that this flow comes from an aquifer, which extends at least 40 miles southwest.
We will be able to obtain water for our cars here. In the town, are
some antique shops, which might be interesting to the ladies.
Shortly after we turn onto Alabama Highway 9, you will see a sign,
on the right, which reads “Goshen Memorial”; you may wish to stop here.
This is the former site of Goshen United Methodist Church. In April
of 1994, Palm Sunday, a tornado containing winds of 225 miles per hour
hit the church during Palm Sunday Services and killed 20 people and injured
many more. At that time, Rick Bragg, a native of this area, was a
reporter for the New York Times. He was sent by the newspaper to
cover the story of the tragedy; being from this area, he knew many of the
people involved. He wrote the story about the church and for
it and for some other stories he won the Pulitzer Prize. The story
of the storm was covered by the national news media and may have been seen
by some on today’s tour. A new church has been built a short distance
farther on, on the right side of the road.
Another small town, through whose outskirts we will be going,
is Piedmont, Alabama. We will be going toward the town from the north
and the backdrop for the town is Duggar Mountain on which Alabama’s second
highest point (about 2200 feet above sea level) may be seen.
On our trip back to Rome this afternoon, we will be going a slightly
different way which will take us through the town of Rock Run. At
one time, around 1900-1910 iron ore was mined nearby and a smelting furnace
making pig iron was operated at Rock Run. The furnace was heated
by charcoal which provided employment to many people making the fuel.
The old company store, in very poor condition, may be seen on the right
as you pass through.
Wednesday’s Tour – New Echota, Georgia
Today’s tour takes us to a place that could have been a showplace
for the kind of government and republic that the United States should have
fostered; but, instead of fostering that form of government, the United
States destroyed it. The government was that of the Cherokee Indians
who had lived in Georgia for centuries and had lived there peacefully for
The leader of the Cherokees, Sequoyah, devised an alphabet for their
own language and many of the Cherokees became literate in their language.
A Cherokee Newspaper was established and printed in both English and Cherokee.
The Cherokees formed their own government, which was very similar to the
U. S. government and the people were free. The Cherokees, for
the most part, were farmers and lived in towns and villages similar to
the white people; but the U. S. wanted the Cherokees’ land to be sold to
white settlers. By persuading the leaders of the Cherokees that it
would be best for their own interests to move to lands in the west, a treaty
was drawn up to take away the Indian lands in Georgia. The final
result of that treaty was the infamous “trail of tears” in which over 4,000
of the Indians died on their way to what is now Oklahoma. An interesting
fact in relation to the treaty was that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that
the treaty was not valid and that the Cherokees could stay on their land
in Georgia. President Andrew Jackson then made his famous remark
that “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it”.
Jackson then ordered the Indians to be forcibly removed from the land.
We are going to the place where the capital of the Cherokee government,
New Echota, was located. A visitor’s center and museum are there
and many items of interest are to be found in the museum. In addition,
there are some houses to be visited on the location of the town of New
Echota, including the Supreme Court building and the Newspaper Print Shop.
Thursday’s Tour – Kennesaw, Georgia
On today’s tour we are going to Kennesaw, Georgia to visit the Southern
Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, which is the site of one of
the most daring and intriguing stories of the War Between the States.
A group of Federals under the command of a Mr. Andrews, came south
to steal a Western and Atlantic Railroad train on its way from Atlanta
to Chattanooga. They then hoped that, on its way north, they would be able
to destroy the railroad track and bridges to keep supplies from going to
the Confederate Army. The place, at which the train was stolen, was
Kennesaw (which at that time was named Big Shanty). The train, pulled
by the engine, General, had stopped for breakfast at Big Shanty, and Andrews
and his men stole the train while everyone else was eating. The conductor
of the train, Captain Fuller, started off on foot chasing the train, along
with some other members of the train crew. He shortly came to a maintenance
crew who had a handcar and he commandeered it. Later, he was able
to take over a small yard engine, and after that, he commandeered the engine,
Texas, to follow his train pulled by the General. The Texas
had to run in reverse since it was on its way to Atlanta when it was commandeered.
This was not a problem since a steam locomotive can go as fast in reverse
as it can forward. The Confederates were following so closely behind in
the Texas that they ran the General out of fuel and recaptured it.
We are going to see the object of that chase, the General, at almost the
same spot on which it was stolen. The engine, Texas, is now in Atlanta
in the same building in which the Cyclorama is housed. Walt Disney
Studios made a movie of the Andrews Raid, named The Great Locomotive Chase.
For steam fans, this is a very good movie; it has so many shots of working
steam engines that it is a must see!
In the same museum with the General, there are many objects taken
from Glover Machine a factory in Marietta, Georgia, which manufactured
steam locomotives from 1902 until 1930. The factory continued some
operations until 1998 when the factory building was torn down and many
interesting pieces from the factory were given to the museum.
We will also be going through the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National
Park, which was the site of a battle preceding the Battle of Atlanta.
Anyone, who wishes, may go in the visitor’s center or drive up Kennesaw
Mountain. The mountain is fairly steep, but can be climbed by a steamer
good condition. The grade reportedly is 6.5 percent overall, but
in some places may be as much as 10 percent and the road is 1.5 miles long.
On a clear day, Stone Mountain and the tall buildings in Atlanta may be
seen from the overlook.
Martha Berry Home, Museum, and Berry College
Our final tour today takes us to the home of Miss Martha Berry, a
museum about her life, and a tour of the Berry College Campus where we
will eat lunch in the college cafeteria.
Miss Martha Berry, born in 1866, was the daughter of Thomas Berry,
a well-to-do planter and businessman, and Frances Rhea. As a young
woman, she was deeply concerned by the plight of the rural Appalachian
young people who had no opportunity to go to school and make better lives
for themselves. She started teaching children in an improvised cabin
and later a crude school was built. This building is still standing
and may be seen on the Berry College Campus at “Possum Trot”. The
big attraction of Berry School was that it allowed the enrolled students
to work on the school farm to pay for their tuition and room and board.
Miss Berry was not ashamed to ask for donations to help the school and
some well known people were persuaded to donate. Henry Ford built
some of the buildings which are in use today on the campus. The school
which started in teaching the basics expanded into a high school and then
added a college curriculum. The beautiful campus, the biggest college
campus in the world, contains approximately 28,000 acres, and has a student
enrollment of approximately 2,000 students.
Our tour will first take us to the Martha Berry Museum, and to Oak
Hill, Miss Berry’s home. You will have an opportunity to visit the
museum, view Miss Berry’s automobiles (sorry, no steam cars), and to take
a tour of Oak Hill. While at Oak Hill, there will be an opportunity
to take a picture of your car in front of the house.
After visiting Oak Hill, you can drive over to Berry College and
tour the campus on your own. Be sure to visit the Old Mill Wheel and Possum