Our family visited the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia while visiting friends and family- in our hometown! Not only did we have an awesome time, but the museum was also a great educational field trip in US History for our kids!
Opened originally in 1972 as the Big Shanty Museum, its main draw was the large steam locomotive referred to as The General, which focused on retelling the story of “The Great Locomotive Chase” of 1862. Our family enjoyed the movie presentation of the museum offers throughout the day. It gave us a perfect portrayal of a well-known story, which was 10 times better, sitting just a few feet from the actual locomotive!
After the addition of the Glover Machine Works Collection in the mid 90’s, the facility was able to recreate itself into what is currently displayed today. After a large-scale expansion and complete renovation, The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History was re-born in 2003.
At almost 60,000 square feet to cover, we took our time and explored all the nooks and crannies the museum had to offer. The kids were given scavenger hunts to help them interact and keep busy.
The twins really enjoyed this activity and took their search very serious by scouring the exhibits for the items of their lists.
The older girls loved the Glover Machine Works. Featuring what happens to be, the only fully restore ‘belt driven’ locomotive assembly line, according to the Museum. Displaying antique pieces of actual machinery used in the production of the locomotives, and two locomotives along the assembly line!
After about an hour into our tour- the kids stumble across the newest Museum addition, The Jolley Education Center. Spanning another 8,000 square feet of kid-friendly interactive exhibits, this area was the highlight of our field trip for 3 main reasons:
- Hands-On Telegraph Lesson: The girls flocked to the two telegraph station on either side of the room. After reading the history and direction boards they quickly became fascinated with the ability to send messages back and forth using Morse Code.
- Merci Box Car Unit Study: It’s hard to overlook beautiful boxcar, donated by France, displayed toward the back of the room. We learned it was called the ’40 & 8” because it either carried 40 men or eight horses throughout WWI & WWII.
- Diesel Train Simulator: Allowed the kids, especially the twins, to entertain themselves by driving a steam engine. A large screen is surrounded by a train display, where the kids could walk right in, sit in the conductor chair, and use the controls to drive the train.
Armed with tons of Civil War & Locomotive History, after sending 3 hours at the Museum, we decided to call it a day. We thanked the staff for a wonderful visit and the wealth of information provided, then made one last stop in the gift shop where everyone purchased a special trinket to remember our trip.
Tis is what life learning & road schooling is all about! The ability to learn while you are immersed in the educational experience provides a child with an education unmatched by the classroom. Just my opinion!