Development of Early Transportation Systems in the United States


RAILWAY construction never fails to excite intense interest in the communities in which the startling process of making an approximately level road by deep cuts, high embankments, expensive tunnels, and the erection of lengthy viaducts or bridges, is witnessed for the first time, and after the line has become a fixture the next object to excite curiosity and attract earnest attention is the locomotive.


Current histories of locomotive development in the United States usually speak of imported English locomotives as the basis of all practical operations in this country. In one sense, this view may be correct, but it scarcely does justice to the ideas developed and labors performed here. The great sensation made by the successful effort of Oliver Evans, in the early part of the century, to endow a steam engine with power to move itself over the streets of Philadelphia, typified the germs of much that was first accomplished in England, not on account of priority of invention, but because requisite financial aid was lacking here, and attainable there. Mr. Horatio Allen, who ordered and ran the first locomotive ever used on an established American railway, in an interesting sketch, written in 1884, of the first five years of the railroad era, says: "As early as 178O, and before Watt had perfected and introduced the condensing engine, Oliver Evans had matured his plan of a high-pressure engine, and had applied it to do work as a stationary engine. It is of interest to know that the boiler which Oliver Evans constructed and used was a multitubular boiler, but differing from the multitubular boiler now the established boiler of the locomotive in the particular that in the Evans boiler the water was in the tubes, and the products of combustion passed between the tubes, whereas in the present locomotive boiler the products of combustion pass through the tubes, and water surrounds them. What was accomplished by Oliver Evans had all the elements of a permanent success. Had Evans had a Boulton, as Watt had a co-oporating Boulton, or a Pease, as George Stephenson had his Pease, as a co-operator, the high pressure steam-engine would have had a position from that time of great interest to the country, and, through this country, to the world; but no such aid coming from individual or state, vainly applied to, there is only the record of what might have been-another of the many cases where the inventor was ready, but the age was not."

Another locomotive was made by an American citizen before any English locomotives were imported. In George W. Smith's notes to Wood's Treatise on Railroads, published in 1832, referring to the tubes used on the Rocket engine, made for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, he says: "Boilers, containing flues or tubes, filled with water or heated air, have repeatedly been used for steam engines, and frequently proposed for locomotive engines. Their lightness and efficiency obviously adapted them to this purpose. In 1825 Mr. John Stevens, of Hoboken, New Jersey, constructed and used a locomotive engine, the boiler of which was entirely composed of tubes of an extremely small diameter, filled with water."

Soon after railway construction had advanced to the stage that created a demand for locomotives, several Americans designed and partially or wholly constructed them in accordance with plans that differed in important respects from contemporaneous English machines. The pioneers of this class include Peter Cooper, Long and Norris, and Phineas Davis.


There had, however, been in England, during a score of years, efforts to construct locomotives, intermingled to a moderate extent with their practical use, and a succession of improvements, which had been tested in working operations, chiefly on colliery railways, before any American railway companies had finished lines with the intention of using steam power, and it was natural that the first machines intended for actual service should be imported. Of the first three English engines purchased by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company in 1828-29, two were similar to the famous Rocket. They were first put in working order at the West Point Foundry, in New York, at which establishment the first American engine ordered for actual service was constructed, but the English locomotives bear little outward resemblance to that engine, which was the "Best Friend," used on the South Carolina Railroad.

At that day, as at all subsequent periods, the locomotive was pre-eminently a progressive machine, improvements being frequently made, and it is supposed that a number of the early English locomotives sent over to this country, soon after the arrival of those forwarded to the Delaware and Hudson, were of the Planet type. It represented important improvements on the Rocket, which won the prize offered by the Liverpool and Manchester. As the Planet type may perhaps be regarded as the model of practical American locomotive construction, to a greater extent than any other type, the following contemporaneous description of its first public performances, which originally appeared in a Liverpool paper, is republished here:

"On Saturday last (4th December, lS30), the Planet engine, Mr. Stephenson's, took the first load of merchandise which has passed along the railway from Liverpool to Manchester. The team consisted of 18 carriages, containing 135 bags and bales of American cotton, 200 barrels of flour, 63 sacks of oatmeal, and 34 sacks of malt, weighing altogether 51 tons, 11 cwt., 1 quarter. To this must be added the weight of the wagons and oil-cloths, viz., 23 tons, 8 cwt., 3 quarters. Tender, water, and fuel, 4 tons, and 15 persons on the team, 1 ton, making a total of exactly eighty tons, exclusive of the weight of the engine, about 6 tons. The journey was performed in 2 hours and 54 minutes, excluding three stoppages of 5 minutes each (only one being necessary under ordinary circumstances), for oiling, watering, and taking in fuel; under the disadvantages also of adverse wind, and of a great additional friction on the wheels and axles, owing to their being entirely new. The team was assisted up the Ramhill inclined plane by other engines, at the rate of 9 miles an hour, and descended the Sutton incline at the rate of 161/2 miles an hour. The average rate on the other parts of the road was 121/2 miles an hour, the greatest speed on the level being 151/2 miles an hour, which was maintained for a mile or two, at different periods of the journey."

Mr. George W. Smith's appendix to Wood's Treatise on Railroads, published in 1832, in referring to engines which were probably of the Planet description, and also early American locomotives made at the West Point foundry, says:

"A locomotive of the latest pattern (made by Robert Stephenson, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England), has been imported by the New Castle and Frenchtown. The spokes of the wheels are wrought-iron tubes, bell-shaped at their extremities; the rim and hub cast on them-the union being effected by means of boring. The wheels are encircled by a wrought-iron tire and flange-the latter is very diminutive, and will require enlargement. The weight of the engine is not adapted to a railway of slender proportions, composed of timber and light rails.

A locomotive, weighing 12,742 pounds, made by R. Stephenson, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, was tried on this road by the company. The wheels are of wood, the tires wrought iron. The weight injured the railway. Another locomotive, also owned by the company, made at West Point, weight 6,7581/2 pounds, wheels 4 feet 8 inches in diameter, is in use; the average speed, with a load of 8 tons, is 15 miles per hour, although 30 miles per hour have been accomplished with this load on the railway.

Three locomotives are now in operation on the South Caroline Railroad; one of them is supported on eight wheels-it was made at West Point."

The very early eight-wheeled locomotive here referred to was presumably constructed in compliance with a suggestion of Horatio Allen, chief engineer of the South Carolina Railroad, to the effect that by distributing the weight of the locomotive on eight wheels the pressure upon the light wooden railway would be diminished.


The best of the English engines of that day were not intended for use on the fragile wooden rails, the heavy grades, and sharp curves of American lines, and as they were made to burn coke, and not wood, and were not provided with the spark arresters necessary for wood-burning locomotives, they failed to serve the intended purpose to the desired extent. Modifications were evidently needed to compensate for the difference between the fragile, cheap, and crooked heavy-grade American lines, and the expensive and relatively solid, straight, and level English lines, and for the difference between wood- and coke-burning locomotives. One of the first of the improvements, which has since been almost universally used on American locomotives, was the introduction of the locomotive truck, or bogie, of four wheels, underneath the front of the engine, which was suggested by Mr. John B. Jervis, one of the most distinguished of the early American civil engineers, when the first American locomotives intended for actual service were being constructed at the West Point Foundry. Its particular object was to support and govern the machine in running over curves. It is claimed that a similar device was embraced in a design of a locomotive by Long and Norris in 1829. An excellent substitute was also applied by Mr. Isaac Dripps to the English locomotives imported by the Camden and Amboy. Many other improvements were introduced from time to time, and the work of changing details is always progressing, with varying results. But the increased aid attained in traversing uneven or poorly constructed roads, by the use of the forward trucks or bogies, the power to ascend heavy grades, and the construction of spark arresters, were among the most notable of early American achievements, and they were soon succeeded by numerous useful inventions, which had the general effect of increasing the strength, speed, and power of locomotives, as well as their weight. The alteration or construction of locomotives was attempted, in a crude fashion, at various places. In a few cases the foundation was laid for gigantic establishments, while in other instances the novel undertaking was abandoned. While these native industries were being developed a few additional locomotives were also imported from England. One of the earliest of these imported locomotives was probably brought here for use on the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad, and one of the most famous is still in existence, and it is claimed that at the time it was manufactured it was the best engine that had been made. It is the John Bull, ordered by Mr. Robert L. Stevens, for the use of the Camden and Amboy, in the fall of 1830, and built by Robert Stephenson & Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne. It arrived at Bordentown, New Jersey, in August, 1831. A trial trip was made early in September, 1831, and an exhibition of its powers before members of the legislature of New Jersey in November of that year facilitated the passage of a bill granting to the company the privilege of using locomotive power. This locomotive was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in 1876, and at the Railway Exposition in 1883, and it has since been permanently deposited in the National Museum at Washington. It was in active service for more than thirty years.

The following statements relating to this engine are attributed to Mr. J. Elfreth Watkins, who had charge of the railway curiosity department of the National Museum at the time they were made: "This engine when it arrived in the country was substantially as it now is-with inside cylinders, four driving wheels, and multitubular boiler. The driving-wheels originally had cast-iron hubs, and locust spokes and felloes, and a tire about five inches wide and flanged, shrunk on like the tire of an ordinary cart-wheel. There was no head-light, no bell, and no pilot. The steam-pipes were inside the boiler, and the dome was right over the fire-box. In the dome was a lock-up safety-valve, which the engineer could not reach. There was no cab, and no tender came with the engine. To take its place, when the first experiments were made, a tender was made of an ordinary construction car, with a whisky barrel to hold the water, which was fed to the engine through hose made by a shoemaker out of leather, connected with the tank by waxed thread. When this engine arrived in this country it was the most perfect locomotive in the world. It had been built by George Stephenson's firm as an improvement on the Planet, which, built in 1830, was the first engine which had the combination of horizontal cylinders, multitubular boiler, and the blast pipe. The 'John Bull' was the first engine running in this country which possessed these three essential features of a locomotive, for lack of which earlier engines in both countries were comparative failures."


In preparing the John Bull and fourteen other engines of similar design, the machinery of which was ordered and made in England, for actual service, Mr. Isaac Dripps, who had from the outset and during a protracted period the direction of motive power on the Camden and Amboy, adopted a peculiar device to enable the rigid English locomotives to turn curves, which differed from that devised by Mr. Jervis, but was also very effective. It consisted in the placing of two small wheels under a projection of the locomotive which corresponds in location with the modern cow-catcher, and formed the pilot. As an aid to this device, in facilitating the turning of curves, one of the forward driving-wheels of the locomotive was so arranged as to move around the axle instead of turning with it. By these ingenious arrangements the curve-turning difficulty was completely overcome, not only on the John Bull but on fourteen other engines of a similar pattern, which remained in active service for about a score of years.

Another locomotive, called John Bull, was used on an early New York railroad. The Baltimore and Susquehanna (now the Northern Central) imported an English locomotive, called the Herald, at an early date. Orders for a few other English locomotives continued to be intermingled with contemporaneous orders for American machines during several years, and at the outset considerable inconvenience and disappointment resulted from the failure of the English works to adopt devices necessary to meet the difficult conditions existing on most of the early American lines, and from the lack of the requisite facilities for satisfactory work in pioneer American shops.


On the portion of the Baltimore and Ohio first constructed and on various other early lines, notably the Mohawk and Hudson, the Philadelphia and Germantown, the Camden and Amboy, and Philadelphia and Columbia, horse power was originally used to draw cars. The South Carolina Railroad is said to be the first railway in this or any other country which was constructed from the outset with the understanding that locomotives only were to be employed, but even on it vehicles drawn by horses were used to a limited extent before locomotives were procured. As the first section of the Baltimore and Ohio abounded with sharp curves the question arose whether, on such a line, locomotives could ever be successfully substituted for horses. The prevailing opinion in England at that time was that locomotives could neither ascend heavy grades nor turn very sharp curves. It was mainly to demonstrate that this view was erroneous, and that the curves on the Baltimore and Ohio were not too sharp to permit the use of such forms of a locomotive as could be constructed, that Peter Cooper made a locomotive which, although it was so diminutive that it was little more than a working model, fully accomplished its intended purpose. It is generally regarded as the first American locomotive, and probably was, if the previous efforts of Evans and Stevens, heretofore referred to, are not considered. A locomotive of a size adapted for continuous service was also made by Long & Norris, which was probably designed and may or may not have been completed before


That trial trip was made on August 28th, 1830, and a contemporaneous account which, it is said, was written by Ross Winans, published in the Baltimore Gazette, of September 2d, 1830, says it "tested a most important principle, that curvatures of 400 feet radius offer no material impediment to the use of steam power on railroads when the wheels are constructed with a cone on the principles ascertained by Mr. Knight, chief engineer of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, to be applicable to such curvatures. The engineers in England have been so decidedly of opinion that locomotive steam engines could not be used on curved rails, that it was much doubted whether the many curvatures on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad would not exclude the use of steam power. We congratulate our fellow citizens on the conclusive proof which removes for ever all doubt on this subject, and establishes the fact that steam power may be used on our road with as much facility and effect as that of horses, and at a much reduced expense."


Outlines of the history of the successful and enduring locomotive works have been published, and if the rule of the survival of the fittest can properly be applied to such subjects, it would be difficult to give too much credit to the men identified with the establishment and continuance of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and Rogers' works at Paterson. But it is noticeable that there were a number of pioneers who have left no business successors to eulogize their labors and perpetuate their memories. Colonel W. Milnor Roberts states that when he was instructed by the directors of the Cumberland Valley road (of which 50.50 miles were in operation in 1836) to procure the construction of a number of locomotives, "there were comparatively few locomotive manufactories in the United States, and they were on a small scale," and that he "went to Alexandria, Virginia, where there was a locomotive establishment, and made a contract for locomotives to be delivered in a few months." He adds: "I then went to New Castle, and made a contract for another locomotive, and then took the boat for Philadelphia. There were two locomotive works in that city, Baldwin's and Mr. Norris'. Baldwin had so much work in proportion to his force that he could not engage to deliver any in the time named. I made a contract with Norris for two at first, and two more afterwards. I then proceeded to Boston and Lowell, and I thought the Lowell road better than any I had yet traveled on. Lowell, even then, was a great manufacturing town, although comparatively in its infancy. I admired the appearance of the town, manufactories, crowds of girls, and the fine machine shops. Major Whistler was very obliging in showing me through the works, which, for that early period in railroading, were on a large scale, and well worth seeing.

He soon informed me that they were so overrun with orders that they could not attempt to make any engines for our company. I then returned to Philadelphia and Carlisle, and then to New Castle, where I tested the engine, and found it to work satisfactorily."

He also says that he witnessed the "first experiment of applying steam to a trumpet. This was between 1831 and 1833," and that it was his impression "that this preceded the introduction of the locomotive steam whistle."

The fact that Mr. Roberts found a locomotive establishment at New Castle, with which he made a contract, at that period, was due to the circumstance that locomotives forwarded from England for use on the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad had first been landed at that point, and their machinery put together there, and this New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad was one of the first lines in the United States, if not the first, on which regular passenger movements in cars drawn by locomotives were commenced, as it was an important link in a favorite Atlantic coast through route between northern and southern sections of the country. It was chartered February 7th, 1829, and opened in 1832, and a portion of the road now forms part of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore. The Boston and Lowell Railroad, which he refers to as one of the best of the early lines, was chartered June 8th, 1830, and opened June 26th, 1835. The main line extended from Boston to Lowell, and was 26.35 miles in length. One of the most important of the early locomotive works of New England was established by Hinckley & Drury in Boston.


In connection with early locomotive construction, the works started by Col. Stephen H. Long and William Norris in Philadelphia, deserve special mention. Septimus Norris, in a communication dated Philadelphia, May 23d, 1856, and published in Colburn'' Railroad Advocate, of June 14th, 1856, after referring to movements in England, says: " Now we have seen what England was doing, let us see what was going on in the United States. Col. S. H. Long, of the United States Topographical Corps of Engineers, and William Norris, Esq., a gentleman of acknowledged scientific attainments, were at this very time experimenting in the building of locomotives; and as early as May, 1829, they designed a locomotive to burn anthracite coal. The engine was arranged with two driving-wheels, five feet in diameter, placed in front of the fire-box; the cylinders outside, the front part of the engine resting upon a four-wheel truck, turning and resting on a centre bearing, in connection, and made fast to a bolster running across the truck frame. The peculiarity of the boiler was in the arrangement of the tubes, there being two sets, and between which was a space of some twenty inches, forming a combustion chamber for the gases and smoke. There was also attached to the boiler a fan-blower, driven by the exhaust steam, which was operated upon by the engineman at pleasure. This was used to produce artificial draught.... Long & Norris built an engine called the Black Hawk, which performed with only partial success on the Boston and Providence Railroad, also upon the Philadelphia and Germantown road in 1830. William Norris was undoubtedly the original designer of the accepted and adopted American locomotive, and to him alone belongs the credit of having built the first, and most thoroughly successful locomotive in the United States. His plans were unlike anything then known. The cylinders were placed outside, as in the Rocket, using wrought-iron frames, with the expansion, also a four-wheel pivoting, centre-bearing truck, also four eccentrics. These were the distinguishing features of William Norris's locomotive. In December, 1830, Long & Norris patented chilled driving-wheel tires, with different modes of fastening the tire to the centre, also the introduction of a heater, for heating the feed water before entering the boiler. January 17th, 1833, they originated and patented the four eccentrics and four eccentric rods, for working the valves of locomotive engines. December 30th, 1833, they also originated and patented the double valve, using the auxiliary valve as a cutoff, to work the steam expansively. In 1835, William Norris (who was then alone, Col. Long having withdrawn all interest from the firm), commenced the construction of an engine after his own ideas, based upon mechanical principles and science, with fixed opinions, he having seen, examined, and experimented with all known plans and proportions of locomotives in England and this country, looking closely to the very life and main spring of the engine, the valve motion and its appendages. This engine, the crowning point of all his efforts, was produced, and proved itself most successful, having performed a duty far beyond his most sanguine expectations.

The George Washington ascended the inclined plane upon the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, which is a grade rising one in 14 7/10 feet, or 359 feet per mile, taking up a load of some 53 persons, seated in two passenger cars, repeatedly coming to a stand on the grade, and again moving off with the load. After reaching the summit the engine was turned round, and came down head foremost, stopping in its descent. Here was a triumph, and to this day no other locomotive has ever attempted such a feat. Notice was made of it in the public journals of England, copied from the Philadelphia papers, which was ridiculed by all, calling it a Munchausen story, yet the English engineers could not be convinced of the fact until William Norris, in 1839, sent a single locomotive to England to run upon the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway, which performed a greater duty upon the Lickey inclined plane than he guaranteed. This caused the confirmation of a further order for 16 additional ones, which were built by William Norris in Philadelphia, and shipped to England in 1839 and 1840. This was a great triumph for an American engineer. It led to extended orders, and for several years afterwards William Norris continued to send from his workshops in Philadelphia some 170 engines to France, Germany, Prussia, Austria, Belgium, Italy, and Saxony. The performance of the Norris engines on the Lickey incline was so successful that the fixed power was at once abandoned, and the working power of this part of the line was reduced, comparatively, to so small a sum that the shares of the company advanced L5 each." The Norris works held a leading position for a number of years in the magnitude of their operations, the speed of their locomotives, and readiness to adopt important improvements.


Although the first American locomotive continuously used in actual service was probably built at the West Point Foundry for the South Carolina or Charleston and Hamburg Railroad, Mr. Baldwin a few years later received an order to construct one engine for that road, which, it is said, was his second locomotive intended for actual service, the first having been built for the Germantown or Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown road in 1832. Of this first Baldwin locomotive, which was called Old Ironsides, it is stated that its weight was 5 tons; driving wheels, 54 inches in diameter; cylinders, 91/2X18 inches, and that wood was used for spokes and rim of the wheels, as well as for the frame of the engine. It closely resembled the English locomotives, but the Baldwin works soon began to adopt important improvements, some of which were invented by Mr. Baldwin, and others purchased from other inventors. A sketch of the Baldwin works contains the following reference to the period between 1830 and 1840:

"The founder of the establishment was Matthias W. Baldwin, who learned the jewelry trade in 1817. He had a small shop, but in 1825 went into partnership with David Mason, a machinist, in the manufacture of bookbinders' tools and cylinders for calico printing. In devising a steam engine which should occupy the least space in his shop, Mr. Baldwin, about 1830, hit upon an upright engine of so novel and ingenious a form that attention was immediately attracted to it, and Mr. Baldwin received orders for others of the same pattern. This original stationary engine is still in good condition, and is carefully preserved at the works. In 1829-30 the use of steam as a motive power on railroads had begun to engage the attention of American engineers. A few locomotives had been imported from England, and one had been constructed at the West Point Foundry, in New York city. To gratify the public interest in the new motor, Mr. Franklin Peale, then proprietor of the Philadelphia Museum, applied to Mr. Baldwin to construct a miniature locomotive for exhibition at his establishment. With the aid only of the imperfect published descriptions and sketches of the locomotives which had taken part in the Rainhile competition in England, Mr. Baldwin undertook the work, and on April 25th, 1831, the miniature locomotive was put in motion on a circular track, made of pine boards covered with hoop iron, in the rooms of the museum. Two small cars, containing seats for four passengers, were attached to it, and the novel spectacle attracted crowds of admiring spectators.

In the same year, 1831, Mr. Baldwin received an order from the Philadelphia, Germantown and Norristown Railroad Company, whose line was operated by horse power, for a locomotive. He undertook the work, and, guided by an inspection of the parts of an English locomotive, and by his experience with the Peale model, finally completed an engine which was christened 'Old Ironsides,' and tried on the road November 23d, 1832. It was put at once into service, and did duty on the Germantown road and others for over twenty years. The Ironsides was a four-wheeled engine, modeled on the English practice of that day, and weighed something over five tons. The price of the engine was to have been $4,000, but some difficulty was found in procuring a settlement. The company claimed that the engine did not perform according to contract and objection was also made to some defects in it. After these had been corrected as far as possible, however, Mr. Baldwin finally succeeded in effecting a compromise settlement, and received from the company $3,500 for the machine. The Ironsides subsequently attained a speed of thirty miles per hour and so great were the wonder and curiosity attached to it that people eagerly bought the privilege of riding behind it.

It was some time before Mr. Baldwin secured an order for another, but the subject had become singularly fascinating to him, and he made the most careful examination of every improvement, and experimented for himself. By the time the order for the second locomotive was received, Mr. Baldwin had matured this device, and was prepared to embody it in practical form. The order came from Mr. E. L. Miller in behalf of the Charleston and Hamburg Railroad Company, and the engine bore his name, and was completed February 18th, 1884. It was on six wheels, one pair being drivers, four and a half feet in diameter, with half-crank axle placed back of the fire-box, and the four front wheels combined in a swiveling truck. The driving wheels, it should be observed, were cast in solid bell metal. These wheels soon wore out, and the experiment was not repeated. This locomotive weighed seven tons and eight hundredweight. About the same time other orders were received, and five locomotives were completed in 1834. These early locomotives were the type of Mr. Baldwin's practice for some years. The subsequent history of the various improvements is identical with the history of locomotive engineering in this country.

Patents were taken out or held by Mr. Baldwin for the various improvements to his locomotives September 10th, 1834 June, 1834; April 3d, 1835; August 17th, 1835; December 31st, 1840; August 25th, 1842, and many at more recent dates. Fourteen engines were constructed in 1836, forty in 1837, twenty-three in 1838, twenty-six in 1839, and nine in 1840. During all these years the general design continued the same, but three sizes were furnished, as follows:

First class.-Cylinders, 1221/2X16 in.; weight, loaded, 26,000 pounds.

Second class.-Cylinders, 12X16 in.; weight, loaded, 23,000 pounds.

Third class.-Cylinders, 101/2X16 in.; weight, loaded, 20,000 pounds.

The financial troubles of 1836 and 1887 had their effect on the demand for locomotives, as will be seen in the decrease in the number built in 1838, '39, and '40. In May, 1837, the number of hands employed was three hundred, but this was reduced weekly. April 9th, 1839, Mr. Baldwin associated himself with Messrs. Vail and Hufty, and the business was conducted under the firm name of Baldwin, Vail & Hufty until 1841, when Mr. Hufty withdrew, and Baldwin & Vail continued the construction of more powerful locomotives, and Mr. Baldwin, after careful consideration of the subject, took steps to supply a geared engine,' and the success of the first locomotive constructed under his new patent of 1840 was unprecedented. Only one of these was, however, built. The problem of utilizing more or all of the weight of the engine for adhesion remained, in Mr. Baldwin's views, unsolved."


One track of the Columbia and Philadelphia Railroad was formally opened throughout its entire length, so as to be available for the use of locomotive power, in April, 1834. The locomotive used was the Black Hawk. The distinguished official passengers, including the canal commissioners and a number of members of the legislature, were conveyed from Columbia to Lancaster in fifty-five minutes, and on the following morning at eight o'clock the journey from Lancaster was commenced. A contemporaneous account states that the "train arrived at the Gap at ten, passed with ease the works there constructed, and arrived at the head of the inclined plane near the Schuylkill at half-past four in the afternoon, having made the trip in eight hours and a half, all stoppages for taking in water, receiving and discharging passengers, and incidental delays included. If it be borne in mind that the engine is one of very limited power, that the number of passengers was large, the weight of cars and baggage very considerable, and that the passage was made under the disadvantages inseparable from first attempts, all will concur in awarding to the engineer, and those in charge of the locomotive and train of cars, great praise for their skill in effecting so successful and gratifying an issue of the undertaking."

Of the first locomotive Mr. Baldwin built for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which was called the Lancaster, and completed in June, 1834, and which weighed 17,000 pounds, it was reported that it hauled at one time nineteen loaded burden cars over the highest grades between Philadelphia and Columbia. This was characterized by the officers of the road as an "unprecedented performance," and it probably was, but in estimating the magnitude of the service performed the fact should be remembered that the burden cars of that era were very diminutive affairs, in contrast with their successors.

The locomotives used on the Columbia and Philadelphia Railroad from 1839 up to a period some ten years or more later were obtained from various manufacturers, viz., M. W. Baldwin, Richard Norris and Sons, and Eastwick & Harrison, of Philadelphia; Dotterer & Son, of Reading; John Brandt, of Lancaster; and Ross Winans, of Baltimore.

All the engines in use in 1839, and for some time later, had single drivers, none of them having more than a single pair of wheels, exclusive of the pony truck. During the period from 1839 to 1854 the weight of new locomotives obtained gradually increased from about seven tons to about fifteen tons. A leading point of difference between the early Baldwin and Norris engines was the use of a crank axle on the former, and a straight axle on the latter. For some time opinions differed in regard to the respective merits of these devices, and the final decision was in favor of the straight axle, partly on account of the expense sometimes caused by the use of the crank axle, and partly because it was believed that straight-axled engines could be more promptly started. Three engines purchased from Eastwick & Harrison also had straight axles. They were considered the swiftest locomotives on the road, and they were, therefore, employed in hauling passenger trains. During the fifth decade four-wheeled engines were introduced. The locomotives made by John Brandt, at Lancaster, were very satisfactory. Two engines procured from Ross Winans were known as crabs. They were four-wheeled, had vertical boilers, and were specially intended for burning anthracite coal. They had the reputation of "pulling like elephants," but it was difficult to keep the flues in proper order, leakages being frequent, and on this account they were sometimes disabled on the road.

As with all other early American locomotives there were no cabs in 1839, and when their introduction was proposed a few years later, the locomotive engineers strongly objected to their use, for the reason that they believed the perils to which they would be exposed in case an engine was overturned or thrown off the track would be materially increased by confinement in a cab.

One of the greatest of the early difficulties experienced in the repair shops at Parkesburg arose from the fact that the nuts and bolts used on the locomotives procured from a number of different establishments were of different sizes and patterns, every bolt having its own corresponding nut, and the adoption of effective remedies for this multiplicity of sizes and shapes proved very useful.

This difficulty was heightened by the tendency to unnecessarily increase the number of establishments from which locomotives were purchased, by the pressure of political influence, while state management prevailed. Other outgrowths of party management were the actual or threatened dismissal of prominent employee for partisan reasons, the occasional purchase of inferior bituminous coal, and an attempt to convert a locomotive into an anthracite coal burner which only resulted in spoiling a good engine.


were located midway between Philadelphia and Columbia, and all general repairs of locomotives were made at them for years. The only provision at either end of the line was furnished by blacksmiths and helpers, who were in readiness to perform such labors as locomotive engineers considered necessary.

A pay roll of the Parkesburg shops for September, 1843, shows that the official title of the road then was the Columbia and Philadelphia Railroad (although at a later date it was styled the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, and the report of its superintendent for 1855 gives it that title). The number of employees was 31, including one manager, Mr. Edwin Jefferies, one foreman, thirteen machinists, three blacksmiths, one coppersmith, two file makers, one pattern maker, three carpenters, one stationary engineer, four assistants, and one watchman. The aggregate amount of the pay roll of these 31 men for that month was $1,087.88.

The pay roll of locomotive engineers and firemen employed on the Columbia and Philadelphia Railroad during the month of August, 1843, shows that their number was 40-twenty engineers and twenty firemen. The standard rate of wages at that time and for some years previous to and subsequent to that period was $2 per day for engineers and $1.25 per day for firemen, the time paid for being that in which actual service was performed, and all accounts being verified by affidavits. The total payments for that month were $990 for engineers and $674.36 for firemen. Of the twenty engineers two were employed on a night line, two on a fast line, and sixteen in running " burden " or freight trains.

Of the forty men in service at that time, only five are known to be living now (1886), and several were killed by accidents on the road. One of these accidents, by which an engineer and a fireman lost their lives, led to the introduction of


on that road and others. The men were standing with one foot on the locomotive and another on the tender, when the coupling suddenly broke, and they fell to the ground, and were run over by the train. Previous to that time the coupler furnished the only connecting link between the locomotive and the tender.

Another novel incident led to


It occurred on a section known as Grasshopper Level, a few miles east of the city of Lancaster, and happened during a season when grasshoppers were so numerous that, in addition to becoming a devouring pest on the adjacent farms, they impeded, and in some instances temporarily prevented, the progress of trains on the railway. One of the remedies adopted was to keep men stationed on the track to sweep the grasshoppers off, as they accumulated in immense throngs, but the aid derived from this expedient not being sufficient to fully meet the emergency, arrangements were made for the first time on that road to provide sand boxes.


An extract from an early report of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, which is published in Hazard's Register of April, 1833, gives a detailed account of the results of experiments, continued during a period of 30 days, with a locomotive steam engine called the Atlantic, which had been constructed by Messrs. Davis & Gartner, of York, Pennsylvania, It is stated that these experiments were made "for the purpose of ascertaining, practically and conclusively, the applicability of steam power upon that road, and with the further view of testing its comparative expense and advantages with animal power." The engine is described as weighing 51/2 tons, exclusive of water, and as having two cylinders, of 10 inches diameter each, with a stroke of 20 inches, and working on road wheels of 3 feet diameter. Its performances consisted of drawing five cars weighing about 18 tons, at an average speed of about 12 miles per hour. But on several occasions a load of 30 tons, exclusive of the engine and tender, was drawn 13 miles within an hour. This engine was designed specially for speed, and the report said that the builders were then making a freight engine which was expected to draw 100 tons from 6 to 8 miles per hour. The Atlantic's performances were highly economical as compared with the horse power then used, as her daily labor involved only an expense of $16; while the total expense of the animal power needed to accomplish the same results was $33-a saving of $17 per day, or upwards of $500 per month.

This locomotive, Atlantic, was the outgrowth of the successful competition of Mr. Phineas Davis for a prize of $500 offered by the Baltimore and Ohio, in 1830, to the constructor of a locomotive which would draw 15 tons, gross weight, 1.5 miles an hour. An engine previously constructed complied with these conditions and its pattern was adopted, but the Atlantic was an improvement on the first machine. It is stated that Mr. Davis was a Quaker, and that his first locomotive was commenced in York in 1831 and taken to Baltimore in February, 1832. He was made master of machinery of the Baltimore and Ohio, and soon after completing the Atlantic he designed the Arabian, exhibited at the Chicago Railway Exposition of 1883. Shortly before it was opened a sketch of the Arabian appeared in the Washington Republican, which included the following extract:

"Then Mr. Davis designed the Arabian. This engine was built at the company's shops, under the supervision of its designer. It went into service June, 1834. It has been carefully taken care of and repaired, and, with very little difference, is precisely the same engine that it was forty-nine years ago. It is a geared engine, having a vertical cylinder with walking beam. It has four driving,-wheels, each thirty-six inches in diameter, or nearly one-half the size of the drivers used on modern passenger locomotives. The weight of the Arabian is thirteen tons, about one-third that of the modern locomotive. Its tractive power is 6,000 pounds. It used to have its fans connected with the exhaust, but these became broken, and no attempt has been made to restore them. With this exception it is the same engine as when first made. It is in active service at the Mount Clare yards, and works as well now as when first put on the road. It was for many years a passenger engine, drawing trains on both the Washington branch and the main stem. So far as could be learned it had never met with an accident, never jumped a rail or run off the track, with one exception. That exception was a notable one. Before it was finished Mr. Davis promised the workmen engaged in the shops-some three hundred-to take them and their families on the train drawn by the Arabian as far as it went, then to go to Washington and have dinner at Brown's (now the Metropolitan) Hotel. The Washington branch was then opened nearly to Bladensburg. The trip was made, William Duff being the engineer. Just west of Jessup's Cut, 131/2 miles this side of Baltimore, the Arabian ran off the track. Mr. Davis was sitting with Mr. Duff when the accident occurred. The engine rolled on its side. Neither Duff nor anybody else on the train was hurt, even in the least, but Mr. Davis. HHHHhHHhHHHhe was killed. There seemed to be a special fate in the matter. Nobody could ever tell why the Arabian ran off the track. There was no evidence ever shown, although the fullest investigation was made, that any cause existed to throw it off."

After the death of Mr. Davis, the construction of locomotives was continued at Baltimore, by Ross Winans, at first in connection with a partner, and subsequently on his own account. He adopted a type which became popularly known as Ross Winans' grasshoppers, and subsequently built " crab " engines.


Horatio Allen relates that he urged the members of the firm which built the first locomotive at Paterson, New Jersey, to engage in that business. It was then known as Rogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor, and the first locomotive, the Sandusky, was built in 1837. This locomotive had been built for the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company, but it was purchased by the Mad River and Lake Erie and shipped to Ohio. It had been commenced in 1835, after a considerable amount of preliminary work before that year. In connection with these efforts the Paterson, New Jersey Press, says:

"After the success of the 'Sandusky' was assured, the firm of Rogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor continued to build locomotives. The next one was built for the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company, and was named the 'Arreseoh, No. 2.' This, which was larger than the 'Sandusky,' was also a success. For this, also, Mr. Swinburne made the plans, serving as draughtsman, pattern-maker, superintendent of construction, and foreman of foundry, blacksmith and machine shop. There was not another foreman beside in any department. The shop where the first locomotives were built was 40X100, two stories in height. From thirty to forty men were employed. After five or six engines had been built the works were greatly extended, until they were40x200, three stories, of brick. Later, still further additions were made, and the demand for engines came in from every direction, from the east, west, north, and south."

An intelligent and experienced locomotive engineer, Mr. George Hollingsworth, who commenced running a locomotive in 1838, when interviewed by a representative of the American Machinist, in 1883, gave the following replies in regard to the early English engines used on American roads, and the characteristics of the locomotives first built at the Rogers Locomotive Works:

Q. What style were your English engines?

A. They were of the John Bull type. All the boilers that were built in England for the Camden and Amboy folks were built very nearly after that pattern. They were built with a waist straight to the back of the furnace. The engines were all inside connected, but they were good running engines. They were bad engines to work, though, for they were hard to reverse. They were built with a rock-shaft right in front of the cylinders, and the drop hooks came right through to where the shaft was, and there was nothing to catch but the straight hook and die. So when the engines were running you could not reverse them. The V hook was a little better in this respect, and a figure 8 hook was better still.

But the link was what ended the trouble in reversing. These early engines did good work for their size. The parts were made in England, and sent over here to be put together. Isaac Dripps put up the principal portions of them.

Q. What kind of engines were the Rogers works building when you knew them first?

A. They were small inside connected engines, with one pair of drivers and a four-wheel truck. They built very few of them. Mr. Rogers went to England on a visit, and when he came back they began building eight-wheelers, with two pairs of drivers connected. The first engines of this kind had the main rod connected to the crank-pin outside the back drivers. They were outside connected engines. Mr. Rogers was one of the first to advocate outside connected locomotives.

Q. Had these engines long exhaust pipes?

A. Yes; the long exhaust pipe was used for several years. Then, I think, old Jim Parks proposed the short exhaust pipe. He was a coal-pit engineer. When they tried the short exhaust pipe first it did not do. The steam spread before it reached the smoke-stack, and caused back lash. Then they put in the petticoat pipe, and that made the short exhaust pipe work all right.

Q. Had you any steam gauges in those days?

A. No; we had nothing but the spring balance, connected with the end of the safety-valve lever. They were Salter balance springs, imported from England. Then Orton, of Elm street, New York, who was a pupil of Salter's, began making these spring gauges, and he got all the trade."

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