AS THE TRAIN carried Scarlett northward that May morning in 1862, she thought that Atlantacouldn’t possibly be so boring as Charleston and Savannah had been and, in
spite of her distastefor Miss Pittypat and Melanie, she looked forward with some curiosity toward seeing how the town had fared since her last visit, in the winter
before the war began.
Atlanta had always interested her more than any other town because when she was a childGerald had told her that she and Atlanta were exactly the same age. She
discovered when she grewolder that Gerald had stretched the truth somewhat, as was his habit when a little stretching wouldimprove a story; but Atlanta was only nine
years older than she was, and that still left the placeamazingly young by comparison with any other town she had ever heard of. Savannah andCharleston had the
dignity of their years, one being well along in its second century and the otherentering its third, and in her young eyes they had always seemed like aged
grandmothers fanningthemselves placidly in the sun. But Atlanta was of her own generation, crude with the crudities ofyouth and as headstrong and impetuous as
The story Gerald had told her was based on the fact that she and Atlanta were christened in thesame year. In the nine years before Scarlett was born, the town had
been called, first, Terminus andthen Marthasville, and not until the year of Scarlett’s birth had it become Atlanta.
When Gerald first moved to north Georgia, there had been no Atlanta at all, not even thesemblance of a village, and wilderness rolled over the site. But the next
year, in 1836, the State hadauthorized northwestward through the territory which the Cherokees hadrecently ceded. The destination of the
proposed railroad, Tennessee and the West, was clear anddefinite, but its beginning point in Georgia was somewhat uncertain until, a year later, an engineerdrove a
stake in the red clay to mark the southern end of the line, and Atlanta, born Terminus, hadbegun.
There were no railroads then in north Georgia, and very few anywhere else. But during the yearsbefore Gerald married Ellen, the tiny settlement, twenty-five miles
north of Tara, slowly grew intoa village and the tracks slowly pushed northward. Then the railroad building era really began.