Kennesaw is a city in Cobb County, Georgia, United States, located within the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. Known from its original settlement in the 1830s until 1887 as Big Shanty, it became Kennesaw under its 1887 charter. According to the 2010 census, Kennesaw had a population of 29,783, but in 2019 it had a population of 34,077 showing a 14.4% increase in population over the past decade. Kennesaw has an important place in railroad history. During the Civil War, Kennesaw was the staging ground for the Great Locomotive Chase on April 12, 1862. The city is perhaps best known nationally today for its mandatory gun-possession ordinance requiring all households in Kennesaw to have a gun, with certain exceptions.
As the Western and Atlantic Railroad were being built in the late 1830s, shanty towns arose to house the workers. These were near a big spring. A grade up from the Etowah River became known as “the big grade to the shanties”, then “Big Shanty Grade”, and finally “Big Shanty”.