The Stourbridge Lion: America's First Locomotive

Overview

On August 8, 1829, a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania witnessed something never seen before in America: the first locomotive to run on commercial rails. The engine was named the Stourbridge Lion. The iron contraption chugged down the track, belching steam, to the sound of cheers and booming cannon. This concise and lively history follows the Stourbridge Lion's journey from Stourbridge, England, where it was built, to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, where it made its historic run, marking the dawn of American ...

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Overview

On August 8, 1829, a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania witnessed something never seen before in America: the first locomotive to run on commercial rails. The engine was named the Stourbridge Lion. The iron contraption chugged down the track, belching steam, to the sound of cheers and booming cannon. This concise and lively history follows the Stourbridge Lion's journey from Stourbridge, England, where it was built, to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, where it made its historic run, marking the dawn of American railroading. Here is the story of the real little engine that could.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Anne Pechnyo
The Stourbridge Lion was America's first steam locomotive, used to haul coal for part of the stretch between the mines in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, and the canal in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. The reader is taken from the East Coast to England, where the Stourbridge Lion and a few other steam locomotives were purchased, and back to Pennsylvania for the Lion's first trip on the railroad tracks. Very light on facts and pieces of history, this informational text leaves a lot to be desired. The most useful part of the text is a map of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, showing the path coal had to travel in the early 1800s from the coal mines in Pennsylvania to New York City. Walker's oil illustrations are nice but do not do enough to carry the text. This book might be nice for young train enthusiasts, but should not be used for a detailed historical look at the locomotive in America. Reviewer: Anne Pechnyo
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Easy-to-follow informational text, presented in a picture-book format, takes readers back to the early 19th century when the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company sent Horatio Allen to England. He purchased a steam locomotive named the Stourbridge Lion and took it back to Honesdale, PA, where it was needed to transport coal. Zimmerman's descriptive writing successfully creates suspense when Allen took the locomotive on its first rail trip. Early railroads had been designed for lighter equipment; since the Stourbridge was too heavy and could potentially damage the wooden rails, it was retired. Walker's realistic full-spread oil paintings capture the setting and bring out fascinating details from the text, such as the Stourbridge being transported up the Hudson River by steamboat. Two well-placed maps, integrated into the artwork, emphasize pertinent geographical details. Two supplementary closing pages add more information about the Lion, early steam engines, and the Delaware and Hudson Gravity Railroad. A list of resources is included. While the scope of the book is narrow, it will have broad appeal to children interested in railroading. It would also be a good read-aloud to introduce students to informational texts and a worthy choice for incorporation into lessons on transportation history.—Lynn Vanca, freelance librarian, Akron, OH
Kirkus Reviews
The first steam locomotive on track in the United States now holds a place of honor in a museum. It was brought from Stourbridge, England, to the U.S. in 1829 to enable the transfer of coal from the mines of northeastern Pennsylvania to the canals of New York. A painting on its front was the inspiration for the nickname. Zimmerman's breezy narrative traces its first American run, which the locals both ridiculed and feared. He goes on to describe the mechanics of its operation on gravity rail lines and its eventual journey to world's fairs in Chicago and New York and then to the Smithsonian Institution. (The locomotive actually weighed too much for the tracks and was in use only for a very short period.) It is now on permanent loan to the Wayne County Historical Society in Pennsylvania. Railroad fans will enjoy the detailed descriptions of early locomotion mechanics, rail construction and efforts to save the locomotive. Walker's full-page oil paintings present a pleasant picture of early-19th-century life and rail operations. The title will have limited appeal to general audiences who would be better served by a more inclusive book, but train enthusiasts will welcome another entry that fuels their railroading enthusiasm. (additional information, sources) (Informational picture book. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590788592
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Karl Zimmermann is the author of Steam Locomotives: Whistling, Chugging, Smoking Iron Horses of the Past; All Aboard! Passenger Trains Around the World; and Steamboats: The Story of Lakers, Ferries, and Majestic Paddle-Wheelers. He lives in Oradell, New Jersey.

Steven Walker is the illustrator of Rosa's Bus by Jo S. Kittinger, winner of an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. His work has been honored by the Illustrators Club of Washington, DC, the Society of Illustrators (Los Angeles), and the United States Air Force Illustration Program. He lives in Westerville, Ohio.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2012

    An excellent and informative book

    This is a clearly written and informative book. The author takes a small event in history and shares it with us as an interesting and appealing story. The illustrations are lovely and mesh nicely with the writing.
    We love this book!

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