American Locomotives in Historic Photographs: 1858 to 1949 by Ron Ziel, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
American Locomotives in Historic Photographs: 1858 to 1949

American Locomotives in Historic Photographs: 1858 to 1949

by Ron Ziel

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This rare collection of 126 "builder portraits" of American locomotives offers an exciting cavalcade of images that chronicle the momentous rise of steam locomotive power in America. Builder portraits are especially prized by railway historians because they are the exacting official photographs of new models taken before repairs, alterations, and weathering altered


This rare collection of 126 "builder portraits" of American locomotives offers an exciting cavalcade of images that chronicle the momentous rise of steam locomotive power in America. Builder portraits are especially prized by railway historians because they are the exacting official photographs of new models taken before repairs, alterations, and weathering altered their original appearance. The builder portraits reprinted here were selected from the William A. Rogers collection, a priceless archive of images documenting the history of American steam locomotion from the pre–Civil War era to the mid-20th century.
While the accent in this book is on the oldest and rarest photographs in the Rogers collection, many modern portraits are included as well to demonstrate how highly developed the American steam locomotive had become before the advent of dieselization. Among the engines depicted are the España, a diminutive model built for the Spanish government in 1858; engine no. 216 of the Pennsylvania Railroad, a "fearsome apparition of Gothic character" built in 1861; the Chimbote Emilia, an inspection engine built for railroad company officials in 1868 that is considered a masterpiece of the engine builder's art; and a Union Pacific 1940s' "Big Boy," the largest and heaviest type of steam locomotive ever built.
Clearly, builder portraits are the most revealing record possible of the evolution of the American steam locomotive. This rich selection offers railroading historians and enthusiasts a peerless record of a great age in railway history. Railroading expert Ron Zeil's introduction and captions provide readers with a brief railroading background, a commentary on the art of the builder portrait and key details on each locomotive depicted.

Editorial Reviews

Spectacular album of 126 "builder's photographs" ("portraits," more precisely) of the locos as they came out of the factories--chiefly Baldwin and Lima. These exquisitely detailed photos--most from the Rogers Collection which was acquired by Hayward Cirker, publisher of Dover books--were submitted to Ron Ziel, a great RR historian, for selection and captioning. Captions are extensive and deeply informed. For history, industry, and photography collections (as well as being a celestial delight for the rail fan and modeller). Also perfect for paupers--a great book, well-produced, an original at $13! Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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American Locomotives in Historic Photographs

1858 to 1949

By Ron Ziel

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1993 Ron Ziel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-13619-6



One of the earliest builder photographs is also of a primeval export locomotive: a diminutive narrow-gauge 0–4–0 tank engine that was built for the government of Spain in 1858. The tapered balloon stack is a good indication of its age, for this style was pretty well outdated by 1860. A most basic locomotive, España was equipped with an early injector just forward of the cab, as well as a crosshead-mounted water pump, and the steam dome was placed above the firebox, inside the cab, with safety valve and whistle protruding through the roof.


Pennsylvania Railroad No. 1

By 1860, the 4–6–0 ten-wheeler locomotive, larger and more powerful than the 4– 4–0, or "American Standard," type, was being built, initially as a heavy (for that time) freight engine. With no. 1 of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Mathias W. Baldwins factory had already been well established, this being his 1,009th locomotive, which was turned out in September 1861, just a few months after the outbreak of the Civil War. Railroads often do not number their engines consecutively, so the P.R. R., which was chartered in 1846, had had at least one previous no. 1. A cast plate, usually of brass, was affixed to each side of a locomotive, giving the name of the builder, the serial number, the date of construction and, usually, the location of the foundry. Some early Baldwins, such as this one, had two plates, ornately displayed between the driving wheels: the front one said "M. W Baldwin & Co. 1009"; the rear one, "Philadelphia 1861." The Baldwin Locomotive Works, as it was later known, went on to erect nearly 75,000 locomotives—including some very impressive diesels—before all production ceased in the 1950s.


Pennsylvania Railroad No. 216

Pennsylvania Railroad 0–6–0 no. 216 emerged from the erecting hall at Baldwin in August 1861 as a fearsome apparition of Gothic character, with its bulky components, massive smokestack, high-mounted canted cylinders and awkwardly positioned wheels. The box of a water cistern slung over the boiler and the massive dome scrunched up against the pin-striped cab did nothing to detract from the ungainly visage of this early switch engine. Certainly at this stage of development, the steam locomotive was still experiencing aesthetic growing pains. Within a decade, however, it would mature into an embodiment of elegance and refinement that in taste and proportion would rival the clipper ship and Federal architecture. Such details on no. 216 as the one-piece molded fender over the wheels, the wrought-iron bell cradle and the paint trim could only hint at the princely splendor of the typical steam locomotive later in the nineteenth century.


Eastern Pennsylvania Railroad No. 7

Baldwin's 1, 114th locomotive was a utilitarian 4–6–0 built for the Eastern Pennsylvania Railroad in June 1862. Instead of mounting a cast plate itemizing the builder's information, that data was cast directly into the bottom of the valve chest above the cylinder. Locomotives of this period mounted enormous headlights on a platform directly in front of the smokestack, which housed a large reflector to magnify the weak oil flame that provided the illumination. Often, the railroad itself supplied the headlight—sometimes exquisitely decorated, including pastoral scenery or a portrait of the person for whom the machine was named—so many of the factory photos show engines devoid of the lamps. Barely three decades after the power of steam locomotives first proved practical as a successor to that of animals, engines such as no. 7 shown here had already attained a technological sophistication that was recognizable even in its gigantic descendants in the twentieth century.


Union Pacific Railroad No. 90

A year and a month prior to the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory Point, Utah Territory, on May 10, 1869, Baldwin completed a brutish 4–6–0, no. 90, for the Union Pacific. It would be a month before the ten-wheeler arrived on its owners property in Omaha, Nebraska, and went to work hauling freight—much of it construction materials for the U.P.—to help complete the epic labor of the first transcontinental line. Typical of the 4–4–0s and 4–6–0s of its era, no. 90 had a wide space between the rear sets of driving wheels, to allow room for the firebox to be mounted between the axles. The biggest improvement in locomotive design occurred in the 1890s when trailing wheels enabled the firebox to be carried above the frame. This enabled fireboxes to be increased enormously in size (in both width and length) and ultimately resulted in the high-horsepower steam-generating boilers of the 1900s.


Broadway Railroad No. 4

Street railways, utilizing horses to power small passenger cars, began to appear in American cities even prior to the War Between the States. Most of them retained equine energy until they were electrified, beginning in the 1890s, heralding the advent of the trolley or tram lines. The inherent economics and improved performance of steam on the railways soon became obvious to the horsecar line operators, but running steam locomotives down city streets presented problems. Hissing steam, oscillating, clanking machinery and belching smoke frightened horses and children, disturbed peaceful neighborhoods and blackened washlines. The solution was to hide the steam engine, to make it appear little different from the familiar cars it was replacing. The resulting steam cars, while never widely accepted in the United States, were nevertheless to become a common sight in cities around the world, the last operating in Indonesia in the 1970s. Powered by diminutive wash boilers, the steam tram lines either used "dummy" locomotives decked out to resemble horsecars to pull a passenger car, or, in the larger versions, had a passenger compartment that shared the car with a partitioned-off boiler. Broadway Railroad no. 4 was of the former type. Built by Baldwin in 1868, it ran in the city of Brooklyn, New York, from the Roosevelt and Grand Street ferries on the East River, out to East New York. With a car body completely enclosing the locomotive—even the wheels were covered—the engine was indistinguishable from a small horsecar.


Chimbote Railway "Emilia"

One of the most fascinating and affable of all the little inspection engines built for the use of company officials was the Chimbote Railway 2–2–4T, named Emilia, dating back to 1868. The boiler, with its incredibly slender diamond-capped stack, minuscule cylinders and tall domes, was entirely exposed, while the cab was extended back to include a completely separate compartment for the company "brass" to ride in style while inspecting the track and facilities. With wainscotted paneling, arched windows, clerestory roof, open rear platform and ornate gold-leaf trim, this was more than a mere locomotive—it was truly a masterpiece of art, in the highest sense of the term.


Chicago & North-Western Railway "Alexander Mitchell"

The Chicago & North-Western began building in the 1840s. Within twenty years it had pushed its rails westward into Sioux Indian territory, utilizing high-drive-red 4–4–0s that were quite sizable for their time. Built in December 1869, the diamond-stack American named Alexander Mitchell is seen here posed outside of the Baldwin factory in low winter sunlight. About the only parts of these primeval steam locomotives of the 1860s that would remain virtually unchanged seventy years later were the bell and the builder's plate; each and every other component would undergo a metamorphosis in size, shape and technological improvement comparable to that experienced by all other forms of mechanical endeavor during that period.


Southern Pacific Railway No. 1008

Another aesthetic calamity of an 1860s-era locomotive was Southern Pacific 4–4–0T no. 1008 which apparently began life as a conventional tender-equipped road engine, then was downgraded to work-train and switching service. This, in effect a "rebuilder" photograph, was taken upon the hapless machines emergence from Espee's Sacramento Shops about 1890. With a cumbersome crane mounted on the pilot beam and tiny fifty-gallon-capacity water tanks under the cab, this engine could not wander far from the shops area. The fluted cap on the sandbox reveals that she was built by the Rogers Locomotive & Machine Works of Paterson New Jersey, long regarded as having been perhaps the most quality-oriented of all American locomotive manufacturers—although she hardly looks it in this picture!


Glendon Iron Co. "Alert"

Little narrow-gauge industrial tank engines have rarely been accorded more than passing acknowledgment by most railway historians, since they have been generally plain, awkward and even comical, compared to their larger main-line cousins. However, back in the second half of the nineteenth century, locomotive builders lavished great care on the construction of even the smallest and most obscure of engines. Probably, they felt—rightly so—that when their builders plates were affixed to a machine, it became a representative of the firm's handiwork and worthy of the attention paid to all of the company's products. No doubt the tiny Alert, shown posed on a standard-gauge track with a timber supporting the near wheels (why the timber wasn't used instead on the opposite side is a mystery), was rarely noticed by anyone but sweaty, grimy iron workers after she left the M. Baird & Company (a Baldwin subsidiary) works in March 1870. No matter, because the builders knew that for a few weeks at least, the officials of the Glendon Iron Co. would consider the tiny 0–4–0T to be an object of pride and a symbol of its prosperity, so she was outfitted with a paneled cab, shaded lettering, striping and a headlight fit for an engine four times her size! The gentleman wearing a jacket, celluloid collar and tie was probably a manager at Baird—or possibly the superintendent of the railroad operation at Glendon, down to witness the first firing-up of the brand-new saddle-tank switcher.


Ferro-Carril de Salaverry á Trujillo No. 9

Diminutive plantation engines, not too far removed in basic development from FerroCarril de Salaverry á Trujillo no. 9, named Chocope, were still active on the sugarcane lines of Cuba in the 1990s. Especially prominent on this little narrow-gauge 0–4–2T (of the 1885–1915 era) is the crosshead-mounted water pump, a forerunner of the modern injector, used to admit water to the boiler. Although such devices had disappeared from main-line power on most railroads by 1900, they may still be found on some of the smaller sugar-plantation engines in Cuba, the one country where railway technology may be observed still existing in various phases from 1870s steam to present-day diesel operations.


Excerpted from American Locomotives in Historic Photographs by Ron Ziel. Copyright © 1993 Ron Ziel. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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