The Big Chicken, located along Cobb Parkway in southern Marietta, is a true Atlanta landmark. Motorists reference the 56-foot-tall big chicken when giving directions. Radio stations mention it when describing traffic. Airplane pilots even use it as a landmark for navigation. Today, the Big Chicken is a bit of an anomaly, something unique at a fast food restaurant. Cobb Parkway is a string of urban sprawl, one fast food joint after another. Originally built as more or less a marketing gimmick, the chicken has been embraced by locals and has remained a landmark for more than 45 years. After it was damaged by a storm in 1993, KFC debated whether to rebuild the Big Chicken. The community seemed to be in agreement: The Big Chicken was a local landmark, and it needed to remain; KFC shelled out $700,000 to rehabilitate the restaurant and return the giant bird to working order. Today’s incarnation of this local icon features a moving beak and rotating eyes.
The Marietta Museum of History is housed in a former cotton warehouse and hotel. It is one of the oldest buildings in Marietta and was where the members of the Andrews Raid before stealing a locomotive in Kennesaw, Ga., on April 12, 1862. The museum offers a series of exhibits dedicated to the city’s history and features memorabilia, including photographs and artifacts.
The William Root House Museum & Garden showcases what life was like for a middle-class Georgia family during the 1860s. Hannah and William Root built the simple frame house circa 1845. William Root an early merchant in Marietta, and the first druggist in town. The structure was more typical of houses in the south than the grand plantations and columned mansions.
The story of fighting fires in Marietta, Ga., from bucket brigades to pumper and ladder trucks, is on display at the Marietta Fire Museum. One of the highlights of the museum is an 1879 horse-drawn Silsby steamer, which is nicknamed “Aurora.” The unit is said to be one of only five of its kind still in existence. The horse-drawn steamer remained in service until 1921 when it was replaced by an American LaFrance Pumper, also on display in the museum. The pumper is famous for being one of the first motorized fire vehicles in North Georgia. Also on display are a 1929 Seagrave pumper, a 1949 Pirsch ladder truck and a 1952 Chevrolet panel truck. In addition to the fire vehicles, a number of antique helmets, firefighting accessories and a “Wall of Flame” featuring photos of some of the city’s larger fires from over the years are on display.
Marietta’s own Glover Machine works built locomotive No. 81421 was in 1916. Coulbourn Brothers operated the 2-6-0 narrow gauge steam engine as No. 4. The steamer returned to Glover Machine Works in 1921. It has been displayed in Marietta since 1992.
The Marietta City Cemetery, adjacent to Marietta Confederate Cemetery, was established in the 1830s. The city cemetery is the final resting place to a number of the city’s prominent denizens, including S.V. Sanford, the namesake for the University of Georgia’s football stadium. It is also where 13-year-old Mary Phagan was buried after she was killed April 26, 1913.
As the Civil War dragged on, wounded soldiers from the battles that ravaged North Georgia were taken to Marietta to be buried. That continued until Gen. William T. Sherman took control of the city on July 2, 1864. Following the war, Henry Greene Cole, a Marietta businessman and Unionist, offered land to build a cemetery for both Union and Confederate soldiers, but many city residents wouldn’t entertain the proposal of burying battlefield enemies in the same graveyard. So, in 1867, Jane Glover officially gave the land to a memorial association to create the cemetery for Confederate soldiers. Union troops who were killed throughout North Georgia were re-buried in the nearby Marietta National Cemetery. In addition to the more than 3,000 grave sites, the cemetery is home to a number of monuments, including a six-pound cannon that Union troops captured near Savannah. The cannon resided at the Georgia Military Institute for a number of years.