General II celebrating 100 years in 2019

This article was researched by museum volunteer Kevin Wood.

A venerable locomotive at the Southeastern Railway Museum is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

The “General II” was born in the erecting shops of the Baldwin Locomotive Works in August 1919, No.104 was built for the Red River & Gulf RR to haul workers to and from the logging camps near Longleaf, Louisiana.

It must have been interesting to see a 4-4-0 being built on the Baldwin erecting floor along with much larger locomotives more common of the time.

The locomotive served the RR&G until they retired it in 1928.

The locomotive ended up on the Comite Southern in 1946 as No. 1, then to the Louisiana Eastern as #1 in 1950. The Comite Southern and Louisiana Eastern were owned by Paulsen Spence who acquired a collection of locomotives to operate on his railroads.

Most of these being bought cheaply as the larger railroads dieselized, No. 1 was the first locomotive bought by Spence and was his favorite.

In early 1961, Spence sold No. 1 to the newly created Stone Mountain Scenic RR for their planned five-mile scenic railroad around the base of Stone Mountain, east of Atlanta.

The SMSRR utilized the historical knowledge and design skills of Atlantan Wilbur Kurtz to backdate No. 1’s look to that of the famous US Civil War locomotive Western & Atlantic RR “General.”

This “backdate” included a false Radley & Hunter “Balloon” stack and period paint colors on the can and tender. Also, custom “General II” nameplates, similar to those of the real General were installed along the front of each running board.

The Stone Mountain Scenic RR sold its operation to the State of Georgia and the Stone Mountain Memorial Association in 1981 after negotiations fell through on the lease of the land on which the railroad operated.

The SMMA operated the “General II” and two other steam locomotives until the mid-80s when it was determined that operation and maintenance were not economically feasible.

The “General II” was the last steam locomotive operated at Stone Mountain and fires were dropped in March 1986.

The “General II” and other SMSRR equipment was utilized in several movies, including “The Rose and Jackal,” “Perfect Tribute” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.”

At the request of a former employee of the Stone Mountain RR, the “General II” was donated to the Southeastern Railway Museum in August of 2007. The locomotive was moved to the museum property in 2008 by the volunteer staff of the museum.

The locomotive received some needed new paint and put on static display.

In time, the locomotive may get evaluated for operating restoration; however, there are other more pressing projects at the museum.

A Closer Look

  • Red River & Gulf RR No. 104
  • Louisiana Eastern No. 1
  • Stone Mountain Scenic RR “General II”
  • 4-4-0 “American” wheel arrangement
  • Baldwin #52207
  • Baldwin Class 8-24C221
  • Cylinders 15” x 24”
  • Drivers 60”
  • Tractive Effort 13,800lbs
  • 13 type A superheaters

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