“THE GENERAL” dominates Joelanta 2012

With its massive size, "The General" completely dominated the display room during Joelanta 2012.

Steve Bugg describes details and history of "The General" to amazed fans at Joelanta. He hopes to add working lights and sound effects.

One of the largest 1/6th scale dioramas ever built was on display at last weekend’s Joelanta in Atlanta, GA. Inspired by a real-life steam-powered locomotive known as “The General,” this stunning display was the talk of the show. Passersby were dumbstruck by its size, craftsmanship and attention to detail.

The General's "cow-catcher" stretches out ahead of the engine.

The General is a famous locomotive fondly remembered for its participation in a real-life locomotive chase during the Civil War, and for being the inspiration and namesake for a 1920s comedy starring Buster Keaton (see movie HERE). This amazing 1:6 scale replica was built by Atlanta GIjOE Club members Mike Gardner and Steve Bugg and includes its massive engine, a wood tender, box car, supporting track, landscape, telegraph poles and assorted action figures to help set the scene.

The Joelanta exclusive "Chronus Adventurer" paid a quick time-travel visit.

Of course, the space, tools and materials required to create such giant dioramas are not commonly available to most fans. Fortunately for Mike and Steve, the two work together during the day and their business allows them to utilize such equipment whenever required. According to Steve, this was the 18th diorama they’ve created together and the 12th show in which they’ve had an entry.

Abraham Lincoln acted as the train's engineer.

Previous Gardner/Bugg dioramas have included a massive WW2 German Castle and a towering “Martian Walker.” When asked about what happens to their massive dioramas after a show, the two men’s eyes dropped to the floor as they sadly admitted…

Assorted figures help repair the track.

“Well, most of them simply ended up in the dumpster. But we’ve managed to save a few over the years that are now stored in a warehouse. We hope that the proceeds from Joelanta will someday enable a 1:6 scale diorama museum to be built where they’ll be properly displayed.

Closeup reveals amazing detail on the locomotive.

Sometimes, unexpected things will happen. For example, after Joelanta one year, we were driving the Martian Walker home. It was loaded onto the back of a semi trailer along with the big 1:6 building that was also part of the display. Well… once the truck got going down the road, the wind just lifted that big ol’ building right up and blew it onto the highway. That was the end of that. But the Martian Walker survived!”

Rememeber...This is all made by hand!

The General was as big and beautiful a diorama as you’ve ever seen. The crowd was fascinated by it. Steve dressed in appropriate period attire with a rebel cap on his head and happily answered questions from awe-struck admirers throughout the day. There aren’t sufficient words to properly describe something this well done. It truly is a museum quality piece. We hope that someday, the Cody Lane Diorama Museum becomes a reality and that The General becomes its main attraction! (All photos: Mark Otnes)


6 thoughts on ““THE GENERAL” dominates Joelanta 2012

  1. GIJOEBILL says:

    True work of Art.

    I feel like I am playing with toys compared to these guys.:)

  2. Joseph Benedetto says:

    Oh, that really is awesome–especially as CLASSIC TRAINS magazine just covered the whole story of the General this month!

    I have to agree with GIJOEBILL: I too feel that way myself when I look at stuff like this. I’ve always dreamed of something like this — yet when I show this to my wife she just gets this look on her face and rolls her eyes…

  3. Joseph E. Willett II says:

    And I thought my two projects were large. Whew. This guy is flat serious! I love trains. I would love to see this in person.

  4. Diane says:

    It’d be just AWESOME in an Old West diorama with some cowboys and Indians!! 🙂

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