The General locomotive

Cary’s been in touch with a post about the General locomotive.

It is perhaps a bit off the beaten track – but I enjoyed it so I hope you do too (Cary’s last post is here).

“Hi Al,

I’m still plugging away on my outdoor G scale layout, will send you an update in a month a so with this summer’s progress.

I know you sometimes share stories and photos that are not related to model layouts but rather actual trains. I put this together and it includes some family history. I understand if you don’t publish it, it’s a little “off the tracks” from what you normally do. However your readers might find interesting and most of all I had fun putting it together!

Thanks much!


The Great Steam Locomotive Chase, American Civil War 1862

In 1862 spies from the Union Army went south in an attempt to disrupt travel, communications and supplies of the Confederate Army.

Their plan was to steal a locomotive in Georgia then travel north to Tennessee destroying tracks and telegraph lines along the way. The locomotive they stole was known as “The General”.

A group of confederate soldiers followed them relentlessly, first on foot, then by hand car and eventually commandeering a locomotive of their own. The Union spies were soon captured and executed.
End Of The Run – The Stolen Engine, “The General” Abandoned.

the general locomotive

The General locomotive eventually fell into disrepair but was never scrapped. By the early 1960’s the Louisville & Nashville railroad found itself in possession of the old steam locomotive. They decided to bring it to Louisville KY and refurbish it in commemoration of the Great Steam Locomotive Chase of 1862.

They had a drawing among railroad employees to see who would get to operate the old steamer. My grandfather was an engineer for the L&N at the time and he drew fireman.

During the summer of 1962, The General made runs around the eastern United States pulling a restored passenger car and meeting excited crowds wherever it went who wanted to see the old machine.

My grandfather (shown left) Bill Price Sr. 1962 onboard The General. The gentlemen to the right was known to our family as “Poppy Doyle”.

the general locomotive

This photograph hung in my grandparents house while I was growing up. Shortly after my grandfather’s death in the early 90’s I asked my grandmother if I could borrow it to have it scanned so I would always have a copy.

Not quite the end of the story.

By the late 1960’s my dad was working for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad in the South Louisville Shops where the old locomotive was stored. I’m not sure of the exact details, but the L&N wanted to acquire track line from a railroad in Georgia. As part of the deal, Georgia would get the General, however the state of Tennessee also wanted the General.

My dad told me they put the locomotive on a flatbed car and tried to ship it to Georgia only to have the state of Tennessee stop the train and make it return to Louisville. They tried again covering the locomotive with a tarp and sending it in the middle of the night. This time the locomotive made it to Georgia and to its final home in small museum in Kennesaw Georgia.

As a kid I was always fascinated by the photograph and heard the stories of the great locomotive chase of 1862. Maybe I even thought my grandfather was part of the raid, what’s a hundred years give or take when your six years old. I’m so glad I had the photograph scanned when I did, at this point I’m not sure what happened to the original.

the general locomotive

The General shortly after restoration in 1962


Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

A huge thanks to Cary.

The General rang a few bells, I think it’s been in a few posts, like Ralphs:

The General model train.

Now on to Tom:

“In the 1950’s I grew up with a Lionel train table my dad built in the basement of our house in Berkley Michigan.

About a year ago I decided to build a N scale railroad in my house. I first had to do a lot of reading about the changes in model railroading from the 1950’s. DCC what a change from having to section off different areas of your layout. Also what materials are now available for landscaping from card stock buildings to ground cover.


The theme of my railroad takes place in the early 1950’s on the Baltimore & Ohio rail line between Baltimore and Cincinnati. The village is in the mountains of West Virginia along Highway 50.

The main line along this route takes you through the mountains into the rolling farm lands of eastern Ohio. There are two spears one that will take you up into the village with a stop at the passenger depot. The second spear is to the local coal mines and trucking fright yard.


Forest with a fly fishing river
Cabin in the woods
Tunnel through Mountains
Local park, swimming and picnicking area.
Canoeing on a lake
Rapids that end in a fishing lake with a viaduct running over the fishing lake.
Cave/wild animal den
Apple orchard
Farm with live stock
Wood frame Farm Houses
Local auto repair shop/gas station
Corn fields
Biker bar
Trucking depot
Engine house
Coal Mine
Town Hall/Fire Station/Police station
Barber/Beauty shop
News Paper Stand
Train Depot/Post Office
Family restaurant
Doctor’s Office
Consignment clothing store/Bed and Breakfast
General Store
Trading Post/Auction House
Butcher Shop
Farmer’s Market/Produce Stand
Gas Station/mini mart


model train track plan

model train track risers

model railroad cliffs

model railroad scenery

model railroad overhead view

model railroad layout

A big thanks to Tom and Cary for sharing the General Locomotive story.

I really do love the backstorys that folk share – for me it really captures the essence of a layout: it can be whatever you want it to be.

I hope I’m posting layouts for many years to come, but sadly, this may not happen.

Sales of the Beginner’s Guide and the printable buildings have slumped, and now, I’m not covering costs.

So if you’d like the blog to rumble on, please support it – I’ve put together a very silly sale for the next couple of days.

I’ve created a PDF of 142 track plans and bundled it with the Beginner’s Guide.

There’s also a membership option (and it is entirely optional). Even if you only stay for a month or so, it would make a massive difference to the blog.

Like you, I love seeing what’s in my inbox each morning, and I’d love to keep that going.

Please, if you enjoy the blog, help me to keep the show on the road.



142 track plans PDF

46 Responses to The General locomotive

  1. Richard Standing says:

    There are two films based on the chase – Buster Keaton’s ‘The General’, and Disney’s ‘The Great Locomotive Chase’ starring Cary Grant.

  2. David Hannan says:

    Brilliant story! I love things connected with family history! Thank you Al for publishing here!

  3. Bruce says:

    Wonderful post. I’ve seen both movies at least twice each. Then Lionel introduced the “O” general. I have it and the add on car set. Acquired another engine, made from same molds, but don’t recall the line. They’ve been in boxes for some time waiting for me to build layout in new home.
    Thank you. Thanks Al for providing Cary’s other posts.
    Bruce in SC USA

  4. Ralph Berry says:

    What an interesting story about your family Cary. Marvelous to see such an historic loco still operating.

  5. Brad says:

    Love old steamers.Glamourous poetry in motion

  6. Steve Hudacko says:

    Enjoyed your story. Interesting family history. As a model RR guy I love these stories. Thank you for sharing it.
    Steve from Toms River

  7. Brian L Staples says:

    Wonderful story Al. Always great to visit our history. These old loco’s never get old.

  8. Jim says:

    This is a nice change to see on this site, makes me think I need to find a General.
    Thank you Al for putting this together.

  9. Linda says:

    What an incredible part of history, especially for your family’s history. Love love love these old trains. Thanks so much to Cary for sending this wonderful story in and thanks so much to Al for sharing with all of us. Keep “chugging away”!
    Linda, PA

  10. David A. Massimi says:

    Cary…thats the most realistic G scale layout ivd ever seen!
    Seriously, thanks so much for sharing that piece of family and Amdrican history with us!!
    The Civil War and trains have been my biggest loves for as long as i can remember…in fact, im finally (at age 68) planning an ho layout that will combine both.
    Again, thank you !
    Dave M, in NY

  11. david loree says:

    wish people would realize what history is all about, such as this. kudos for this story.

  12. Jim says:

    Thanks for the history of this great icon and legend of railroading.

    Jim AZ

  13. Richard Scott says:

    wonderful ! There was a movie back in the 1950’s with Fess Parker about the raid. It is nice to see this piece of history saved.

  14. Dave Kyle says:

    Fantastic video. I think it would be a good idea if AL might consider posting real trains once a month. I am sure there are plenty great videos of older trains. We all love our trains at home and our layouts [ I sure do] and the great emails AL is so graciously sending to all of us, thanks AL.

  15. Thomas Murphy says:

    It is really a positive inspiration to see a monument to history preserved Such a beautiful steam locomotive should always be at the center of attention.
    Regards, Tom (USA).

  16. Gary P. Dettl says:

    Awesome. A great part of our country’s history and a great part of Cary’s family history. In addition, a beautiful restoration. Thanks for publishing this.

  17. Robert Matteson says:

    Thanks for posting that. Remember Disney’s movie when I was a kid, one of my favorites, but learned a lot from this I didn’t know. I have visited the General several times over the years.

  18. Mal says:

    Good post. Loved the video. Thanks.

  19. dave says:

    As a kid I got to ride that train in Louisville !!! My older half brother was with the L&N and later CSX were he retired We went on a loop of track that took us from the station on Broadway to the river front on top of the flood wall (before I 64 was built ) down to the river bottoms passing Campbell street the tracks went south to stock yards back to the station on Broadway crossing B way and about swan street You can see some of the old tracks still by the skate park were there is a big feed mill and the other tracks are still there that pass near the now gone stock yards to the CSX main line east and south when I 64 was built the tracks were pulled up some still are in use by the canal to the Mc Alpin locks Wow never really knew were that locomotive went !!

  20. dave says:

    OH that wood trestle I think MAY be still there have not looked in a wile it is at river road were Bear grass creek empty’s into the Ohio river its near Eva Band man park in Louisville .

  21. James says:

    Great posting. Did anyone else notice the enthusiast who was almost run over by the 25,000th diesel locomotive in his desire to get his film reccord.

  22. Denis Yates says:

    Wonderful story, thepower of steam lives on. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Rod Mackay says:

    I remember being taken by my Dad to see the Disney film at the Prince of Wales cinema in Cardiff, now a Wetherspoons pub, and being rather horrified at all those people running round wrecking railroads – practically sacrilege in our house!

  24. Jaques Shellaque says:

    Thanks so much. It is history that rail fans (in any scale) need to see and
    Jaques Shellaque

  25. Jaques Shellaque says:


  26. Fred Richards says:

    Why would he think we would not LOVE to hear that family history tied to such a rich background?
    I LOVED reading it, taking us back to a time when the Railroad was the high-tech and primary force for armies.

    I am 61 years old and have never heard the story of the race.
    If Disney were alive today I am sure this would be fodder for his imagination and imagineers.

  27. Dan Hulitt, Mn says:

    Wonderful story with great family connection. Thank you Cary and Al for putting it on line. As a friendly correction to an earlier post, I think it was Fess Parker in the Disney version, not Grant.

  28. Dave Ewing says:

    Thanks for the story of the General

  29. Jim Jerele says:

    To Cary from Crestwood, KY.
    Cary, my daughter lives in Crestwood and for a year I have been trying to locate you. I am also a g-scaler and live on Fort Myers Beach, FL. Spent 3 weeks in Crestwood this summer. Would like to meet you and see your project.

    From fellow g-scaler, Jim Jerele

  30. Brian Olson says:

    Living in Georgia I especially appreciate this. Thanks y’all!

  31. Cary B says:

    Thanks for sharing that historic locomotives story Cary, the scanned pic of the restored loco is awesome.
    Tom, your n scale layout Rocks, it certainly has many interesting details, thank for sharing

    Cary B Frederick Maryland

  32. Sid says:

    I was born in Chattanooga and my grandfather took us out to the tracks where the chase took place and there is a historical marker by the tracks. He worked on the railroad for several years when he was young before moving into the carpet mills at Dalton, GA.

  33. Walt Walters says:

    I loved this story! As it happens the “General” was one of my first trains as a kid!!
    I love the style of engine and finally found a used one online! It barely works so I have some work to do to get it back in shape!
    Love that period of trains as well, but it is difficult finding that period running stock!

  34. Erick says:

    Looks great? I hope mine comes out that goods.

  35. George Zaky says:

    That was so great! So appreciate your effort to get the story & video to us.
    Of course, could not be done without the MAN -big Al. Many thanks
    You N guys are amazing! Doing what I cant do. Postage stamp awesomeness.

  36. JC says:

    Thanks for posting.
    Having a family tie-in makes the story real and adds to the history of the engine.

  37. Norman Rosen says:

    Wonderful video of The General! Thank you. To Tom and Cary, you have done a very nice job. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Charlie Muller says:

    Bravo! Does anyone know what happened to the other engine, which I think was named the Texas?

  39. welder dave says:

    I got to ride that locomotive as a kid my brother worked for the L&N and later CSX they had track as the other said on the flood wall some is still there in use but most removed after I 64 was built some of that track ran thru where advance ready mix is now and there were still old telegraph poles in that yard I had trucks working there during the new bridge rebuild one of those poles was hit by a mixer so they removed it I grabbed the insulators off it they have threaded rod thru the cross arms and a box that says western union on it seems some sort of lighting arrester with air gap points and glass fuse in it its rusty so I do not want to take it apart and ruin it to see what all it did .

  40. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Tom now that is pretty darn sharp!! Great scenery job well done!!

  41. Jim Allen says:

    I’m addicted to “The General”. I have it on 8mm film, Beta, VHS and now on my own DVD recorder and it’s number ONE. Sooo – I love this story.


  42. Old Taz says:

    I love it! well done! Your article gave me goose bumps every time even after the sixth time. Wood like to go back to that time for a week but then [ well ] stay!.

  43. C.H. Specht says:

    I remember seeing the General as a kid. I believe at the time it was either in the basement of the museum at the park where the diorama of the Battle of Atlanta was, or at the Capitol building. Still remember being overwhelmed by the complexity of my “first” steam locomotive. I want to say this was about 1956 or so…


  44. Hugh E. Brennan says:

    The raiders – “Andrew’s Raiders” were the first recipients of The Medal of Honor. They weren’t all executed.
    There’s a wonderful memorial to them in the Chattanooga National Cemetary.

  45. robert dale tiemann says:

    really good setup. love the landscaping.

  46. Steve Ruple says:

    Awesome video on the general, thank you for sharing. I have a model of the General in “0” scale that runs on 027 gauge track but requires DC current instead of AC current and it still runs fine.

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