Great Locomotive Chase, The (film)

Great Locomotive Chase, The (film) On April 22, 1862, a party of 22 Union spies stole a train from right under the noses of 4,000 Confederate troops near Atlanta, Georgia, and began a race that might have brought an early end to the Civil War had it succeeded. Intrepid Confederates, led by the train’s conductor, William A. Fuller, commandeered rolling stock for the chase, and persevered long enough to recapture the train. Union leader James J. Andrews and many of his men were hanged in the South, but those who survived and made their way home were given Congressional Medals of Honor by the secretary of war. Released June 8, 1956. Directed by Francis D. Lyon. 87 min. Stars Fess Parker (James J. Andrews), Jeffrey Hunter (William A. Fuller), Jeff York (William Campbell), Kenneth Tobey (Anthony Murphy). Because of Walt Disney’s love of trains, he was especially enthused about this film, and he managed to secure aid from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum to obtain an authentic locomotive. From the B&O he borrowed the William Mason, which doubled for the General. The Inyo, playing the Texas, was borrowed from Paramount Pictures. While the two original locomotives were still in existence, they were museum objects and not available for filming. (Both can be visited in Atlanta-area museums today.) A section of track near Clayton, Georgia, was utilized for the production. The technical adviser, Wilbur Kurtz, who had performed similar chores on Gone With the Wind, happened to be a descendant of one of the Confederates who participated in the chase. The film aired on television in two parts in 1961 as Andrews’ Raiders. See also Behind the Scenes with Fess Parker. Released on video in 1983.