Special History Study
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This document contains the results of many months of research conducted in 1987 and 1988 for preparation of a Scope of Collections Statement for Steamtown National Historic Site. During the course of that project, the author accumulated a wealth of important raw data that contributed to a determination of which rolling stock should be acquired from the Steamtown Foundation for preservation at the park.

Because of the perceived management and interpretive value of the research material, it was decided that a special history study be undertaken to incorporate this information and to provide illustrations and bibliographic data. In essence, this report provides the rationale for decisions regarding the acquisition of locomotives for Steamtown National Historic Site; unpublished chapters filed at the park and available to interested parties by purchase of electrostatic copies likewise contain the rationale for non-acquisition of certain locomotives. The sections of this report regarding individual locomotives are mostly brief. On consultation with National Park Service Chief Historian Edwin C. Bearss, it was decided that footnotes would not be used and that each section would have its own bibliography.

The author is the National Park Service Historian for the Western Region, headquartered in San Francisco. Most of the time spent on this project was contributed and voluntary. All extensive research, such as that conducted in such repositories as the libraries of the California State Railroad Museum and the Colorado Railroad Museum, was performed gratuitously on personal time. The author also provided substantive information from his extensive personal library.

It is important that readers appreciate the time and money constraints under which this study proceeded, and that much pertinent data was thus unavailable from sites in the regions wherein the various Steamtown acquisitions originally operated or were located. That research must be left to others undertaking more detailed accountings of these locomotives.

The main text of this report consists of individual chapters on each locomotive in the Steamtown National Historic Site collection.

Each chapter contains a brief history of the locomotive and the company or companies that operated it. It is followed by a short assessment of its mechanical condition, some recommendations for further study and treatment, and a bibliography of relevant sources. The chapters are grouped into sections dealing with American steam locomotives, Canadian steam locomotives, American electric locomotives, and American diesel-electric locomotives.

Each section has an introduction followed by a general bibliography of basic sources. As this special history study is intended merely to give a general introduction for purposes of providing some basic information for interpretation, a deliberate decision was made not to include foonotes but to provide separate bibliographies of basic sources on each engine or car.

This special history study is necessarily based primarily on published books and articles. Research in primary sources is reserved for the more thorough future reports. This research should precede any restoration work or intervention into the historic fabric of locomotives. The bibliographies pertaining to individual locomotives have been adapted for the purposes of this study to contain specific page citations where relevant, and a few annotations and comments by the author.

Deciding what heading to use for the sections on each locomotive, seemingly a simple matter, proved to be very complex. The original intention was to begin each section with a sheet of basic statistics common to locomotive "rosters" or lists. Such vital statistics would include a photograph of the piece of equipment discussed as it appeared in 1987 or 1988, over which would appear its designation by railroad name and assigned number. Photographs were deemed necessary because some locomotives had been recently repainted but not relettered, and thus carried no names or numbers.

Unfortunately, this seemingly straightforward approach broke down in a number of instances. Several locomotives turned out to have fictitious railroad names and reporting marks, having been repainted by the Steamtown Foundation to represent the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western locomotives. This had been done to provide a unity of name and color scheme to the locomotives and cars used in the excursion train to the Pocono Mountains. It seemed inadvisable, however, to give such repainting an aura of legitimacy in this report; thus locomotives that have such fictitious lettering and numbering are instead described under the name and number of a railroad on which they historically operated. A locomotive repainted in 1987 in maroon and gray and lettered "Lackawanna" with the number "514" is in this report listed accurately as New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad No. 514. Nevertheless, carefully read, this report and its illustrations should still clearly indicate exactly what equipment is under discussion. Indexes by locomotive number and by railroad name appear at the end of this study in a further attempt to clarify the issue.

All locomotives in the Steamtown NHS collection have been studied from the standpoint of technological importance and association with the various railroads that owned them. When the railroad owning a particular locomotive or car, whether short line or major system, is a railroad whose history has been researched and published in books and articles, that association is treated only briefly in the history section. Principal reliance is placed on reference to works cited in the bibliography for more information on corporate history. When a locomotive or car belonged to a company whose history has not been published or is extremely obscure in railroad literature, comparatively more attention has been devoted to researching that basic history from primary source material where available and necessary.

In considering the locomotives from the standpoint of technology and design, all have been viewed first from the standpoint of "power train type," more properly Whyte system type--in other words, the sequence of pilot, driving, and trailing wheel arrangement, a common approach to railroad technology and apparently one of the considerations employed by F. Nelson Blount in building the Steamtown Foundation's collection. But the technology and design of steam locomotives have many other aspects, including rod versus geared power trains; types of: tenders; tanks on tank engines, cabs, valve gear; valves; pilots; headlights; smokeboxes; stacks; reverse or power reverse; drive wheels; type and location of feedwater heater; booster if any; whistles; cylinders; firebox grates; firebox doors; automatic stoker, if any; and other factors. Some but not all of these aspects have been considered in this study and appear in the mention of particular attributes of particular locomotives. A greater degree of emphasis has been placed on Whyte system types and on association with particular companies in this study than on other components of railroad technology, although those have not been entirely ignored.

All of the American steam locomotives in the collection are considered to qualify for the National Register of Historic Places. It must be noted that certain of the National Register criteria realistically do not apply to railroad locomotives and cars just as some do not apply to historic ships. Like historic ships, railroad locomotives and cars are a special case. Steam locomotives have basically been obsolete for common carrier freight and passenger service for a quarter of a century or more, and scrapping of steam locomotives has gone about as far as, or further than, it should go.

Passing mention has been made of the importance of association of a particular locomotive or car with a particular railroad company; in other words, associative significance.

Most railroad museums have been the work of railroad enthusiasts not trained in curatorial or other museum professions or in any aspect of historic preservation. In preserving railroad locomotives and cars, they brought to their activity the perspective of railroad-oriented hobbyists and, in some instances, far more knowledge of the railroad industry than curatorial or other museum professionals would have, which often proved a considerable asset. But as a consequence of this background, emphasis frequently has been more on running trains, or at least locomotives, than on exhibiting them. There has consequently been a considerable bias toward viewing locomotives, in particular, as specimens of technology.

Certainly railroad rolling stock can be viewed from that perspective; a locomotive may have significance because of its wheel arrangement, type of valve gear, type of tender, or any of a number of other technological features. It may have significance as a unique specimen, or as a specimen representative of a type, or perhaps as a unique survivor of some type once common but now rare. Most railroad museums have viewed locomotives from this basically technological perspective, as well as from the standpoint of their operability. This view is not inappropriate. However, in approaching collecting locomotives and cars from that set of biases, it is easy to overlook another aspect of significance.

Apart from any technological significance that may attach to a particular locomotive or car, there is also the question of association--principally with particular railroad companies, though its association might also be one pertaining to a particular locomotive designer or chief mechanical officer, a particular engineer, or other individuals. A museum may have three physically identical locomotives, all built by the same builder to the same specifications in the same year, and when viewed from the standpoint of technology alone, the museum may need only one, the other two essentially being duplicates. But what if each of the three locomotives, though technologically identical, were operated by three entirely separate, distinct, and different railroad companies: perhaps an oilfleld railroad whose locomotive moved tank car loads of petroleum products in southern California, a mineral railroad whose locomotive hauled hopper car loads of copper ore to a Utah smelter, and a small Ohio short line that hauled mixed products to and from the towns it served, manufactures from industries along its line, and agricultural products from the rural country through which it passed, using every conceivable type of freight car rather than predominately cars of one type. Although physically identical, each locomotive would represent association with a separate and distinct history whose interpretation its tangible presence would enhance. Then it might be appropriate for the museum to keep all three because of their different associations, as they represent different aspects of railroad history. Even though physically the same, each of course would have been painted and lettered differently to reflect the patterns used by each particular company. This is one reason why it may be appropriate for the Steamtown collection to include more than one locomotive of the 2-8-0 wheel arrangement--the four in the Steamtown collection all represent different railroads.

Another example of associative significance is Nickel Plate Road Locomotive No. 44. It may have significance as the oldest surviving Nickel Plate locomotive. It also served on a New York State short line railroad, the Dansville and Mount Morris. But between those two owners, the locomotive operated on the Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad, an Ohio company designed as a "traffic thief' operation, and is the only locomotive surviving of all those that operated on the A.C.& Y. Thus this particular locomotive has associative significance with three railroads. Similarly, Rahway Valley No. 15 was built for Tennessee's Oneida & Western and may be the only surviving locomotive of that Tennessee short line. Technological significance is not the only significance by which a locomotive should be judged; it should also be judged by its associative significance with the company or companies that once owned and operated it.

Another factor to be kept in mind when considering the aspect of technological significance is that not every locomotive of identical wheel arrangement is necessarily identical in other aspects. None of the 2-8-0 locomotives in the Steamtown collection is identical to any of the others. Norwood & St. Lawrence 2-6-0 No. 210 has an all-weather cab, probably quite unusual on mogul locomotives. Delaware, Lackawanna & Western 2-6-0 No. 565 does not have an all-weather cab. Similarly, even if it were not the only 4-8-2 locomotive in the Steamtown collection, Grand Trunk Western Railroad No. 6039 would be desirable to retain because is the only locomotive in the collection with a Vanderbilt tender.

Furthermore, not every locomotive in a railroad museum need be operable to be worthy of being retained. Boilers that due to age, lack of strength, lap seam construction, iron fabric, or other aspects may never again operate may still be worthy of preservation as a locomotive that can serve as a static exhibit specimen, restored in appearance so as to represent accurately the appearance of that locomotive at some stage in the history of the railroad.

Whyte's locomotive classification chart

In interpreting the locomotives and cars at Steamtown, it is important that the National Park Service adopt the broad approach of considering the locomotives and cars from the standpoint of their associations and value as fixed exhibits, as well as from the standpoint of their technological significance and operability. The steam locomotive, by and large, became obsolete more than a third of a century ago, and most have been cut up for scrap. Even with some duplication among surviving specimens (such as, for example, the survival of eight Union Pacific Big Boys at various locations), there is probably not a single surviving steam locomotive in the United States that does not merit preservation in some railroad museum, transportation museum, local history museum, next to a preserved depot, in a city, town or county park, or on some tourist railroad.

A parallel issue is that of authenticity of the representation of historic locomotives and railroad cars in terms of paint, lettering, and numbering schemes. The rolling stock of Steamtown National Historic Site should be thoroughly studied, then accurately restored to its appearance during some important phase of its history. A common practice in excursion service is to adopt some nonhistoric, inaccurate, or wholly fictitious color, lettering, and numbering scheme for the sake of unity of appearance of a train. The Steamtown Foundation adopted a late Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad maroon and gray color, lettering, and numbering scheme for that purpose. Once studied and restored for museum exhibit purposes, locomotives and cars in the Steamtown NHS collection should not be repainted in historically inaccurate or fictitious color, lettering, and numbering schemes.

However, locomotives and cars that operated for more than one carrier during their history without physical change, but with different color, lettering, and numbering schemes while serving each carrier, may in the course of their exhibit service be repainted at different times to represent the different carriers they represented. The practice at some museums of painting a locomotive to represent one carrier in its past on one side, and on the other side painting it to represent an entirely different past carrier is not appropriate.

The steam locomotives in the collection of the Steamtown Foundation in 1987 consisted of, with a single exception, a collection of 20th-century motive power. In addition to 24 American steam locomotives, the collection included 12 Canadian locomotives and four European steam locomotives. The NPS acquired 21 American steam locomotives and eight Canadian steam locomotives for its collection; all the rest were sold at auction by the Steamtown Foundation in October 1988.

Thus the NPS has a smaller, but more coherent and manageable collection than did the Steamtown Foundation. However, the collection lacks certain types of locomotives, and some future addition and expansion of the collection is a necessity, through acquisition of significant locomotive types not now represented.

The published literature on the history of steam locomotives in the United States is enormous; so large, in fact, that it is possible to find information and, in most cases, photographs, of almost every American locomotive in the Steamtown Foundation collection in various books, railroad industry references, or in magazines such as Trains, Railroad, Rail Classics, and many others that have come and gone over the years. In the cases of some particular classes of locomotives, such as the Union Pacific Big Boy type or the Reading T-l class, a whole book has even been devoted to the history of a single type of locomotive. While such information does not provide enough data to provide a basis for restoration (further primary source research would be required for that purpose), available published information is sufficient to provide a basis for recommendations regarding interpretation of locomotives by the National Park Service.

It has seemed useful to try to assess how many locomotives of each wheel arrangement, or Whyte system type, survive in the United States, as well as how many that served a particular company, and in certain instances, how many of a particular class have survived. The Whyte system establishes one context of technological significance, while the number of other locomotives of a particular company that have survived relates to the context of associative significance, including association with a particular locality or region of the country. As a source for these statistics, the list of preserved locomotives arranged by states published by Centennial Rail Limited of Denver, Colorado, has been used. It is recognized that other listings are available, that the one selected is not necessarily the most accurate, and that it contains errors, omissions, and duplications. It has been chosen over competing lists, however, because it is computer based, and it proved possible to have it reformatted to list preserved American locomotives by wheel arrangement (Whyte system type) and by owning company. Therefore, while these statistics may not be absolutely authoritative, they provide a general idea of how many locomotives of a certain type or from a certain railroad still exist. There are still a few locomotives--hidden in the brush where abandoned, stored in a dark corner of an obscure building, or otherwise still extant--that have not yet been included in any listing. Perhaps in the future they will be added. Meanwhile, the existing statistics, with a small percentage of error still built in, will suffice to provide some basis for comparison.

However, the fact that roughly 50 of the 2-6-0 Mogul-type locomotives have survived in the United States does not mean that any two of them are identical in design, even if they are identical in wheel arrangement. One may have Stephenson valve gear; another, the Baker type; another, Walschaert valve gear. One may have a wooden pilot; another, a metal bar pilot; another, an elliptical pilot of horizontal angle bars; another, a boiler tube pilot; another, a cast steel pilot; yet another, a switchman's stepboard. One may have a Radley and Hunter balloon stack; another, a Ruston or cabbage stack; another, a beartrap stack; another, a cap stack; yet another, a shotgun stack. One may have a wood frame cab; another, an open steel cab; another, a deckless cab; yet another, an all-weather enclosed cab. The drive wheel design and diameter and spacing may differ from one to the next, as may the cylinder and steam chest design, the headlight type, the headlight platform design, the number plate design, the steam and sand dome design, the whistle type, the type of tender, the design of the pilot deck, design and placement of running boards, number, type and placement of air pumps, type of bell hanger and its placement, and so forth. Were there a thousand surviving 2-6-0 Moguls in the United States, it would probably still be possible for no two of them to be exactly alike. This fact needs to be kept in mind when considering how many other locomotives of a particular wheel arrangement exist beyond the examples in the Steamtown collection. It does not necessarily mean that any of the others exactly duplicate one or more in the Steamtown collection, and even if one is physically an exact duplicate (which, incidentally is not the case in the Steamtown collection), its history of use and association may have been entirely different from that of a twin sister, it may have operated for an entirely different railroad clear across the country.

There are no listings of preserved locomotives by valve gear type, tender type, bell-hanger type, etc. If there were, it would not be feasible to unscramble all the possible variations of locomotives by components into meaningful numbers. Excessive emphasis should not be placed on such variations, but neither should they be overlooked.

It should also be kept in mind that the nation's railroad system consisted of many components, not merely Class I major main line railroad systems. It also consisted of branch lines; wholly owned subsidiary lines; independent short lines; incorporated and named industrial and noncommon carrier roads; unincorporated and unnamed industrial roads and switching operations that simply operated under the name of the industry they served; locomotive and car building firms; manufacturers of the machine tools needed to make railroad components; manufacturers of railroad locomotive and car components; fabricators of railroad bridges and turntables; rolling mills that manufactured rail; manufacturers of spikes, switch stands, and track components; producers of railroad ties and bridge timbers; processors that creosoted or Burnettized railroad ties, and so forth.

Specifically with respect to locomotives, it is important to keep in mind that the main line locomotives of one decade might become the branch line or short line locomotives of a later era, and even an industrial locomotive or industrial plant switcher of a still later era. Furthermore, even the locomotive built expressly for seemingly menial and insignificant service on industrial switching trackage is not to be despised for its comparatively lowly origins, for each made its contribution, however great or small, to the larger history of the railroad industry in America.

The history of some of the industrial companies that operated either small railroads or operated switching locomotives on industrial plant trackage can be fascinating and significant. Indeed, many of the most significant industries in the United States had them. Railroad history, through such associations, opens doors to all sorts of interesting and important facets of American history--it is woven into the fabric of this nation and its place in the 20th-century world.

As a starting point for understanding the development of the technology of the steam locomotive in the United States, John H. White's American Locomotives: An Engineering History, 1830-1880 is essential. While it deals with locomotive engineering during the 19th century, this period greatly affected all that came after, and an understanding of 19th-century locomotives with which the American railroad industry began the 20th century is essential. Then the student of locomotive technology must turn to the Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practice and study in its many editions the evolution of the steam locomotive. Following that are the various publications and catalogs put out by locomotive building firms themselves, as well as the histories of those firms, such as Baldwin, American, Lima, Heisler, Climax, and others. Finally, a large number of books address the history of motive power development on a railroad-by-railroad basis, as do many issues of the Bulletin of the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society (recently renamed Railroad History).

Further investigations of railroad technology have appeared in the issues of Trains and Railroad magazines and their contemporaries and competitors over the years. Indeed, the volume of published information regarding the history of steam locomotives in the United States is huge. This special history study relies principally on the body of published literature and does not involve research into the fabric of locomotives or primary source material. Much more thorough research needs to be done before any restoration work on these locomotives and cars commences.

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Last Updated: 14-Feb-2002