Thursday, April 09, 2009

Can you identify the locomotive on the 1869 stamp?

From: "Richard West"

The 1869 US locomotive stamp (Scott #114) is sometimes said to commemorate the completion of the transcontinental railway?

Can anyone identify this locomotive?

—Richard West, University of Manchester


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Jim Wilke"

The locomotive depicted on the stamp represents an early 1850s American machine, and is remarkably accurate in its basic form.

The engine design itself dates to about 1853 or 54. The angled cylinders, outside frame at the front of the engine, and curved run boards over the driving wheels are all typical of this period. The boiler is fitted with two steam domes, one at front with the whistle and one behind, with a cylindrical "sand box" in between, containing sand which can be dropped onto the rails through a pipe to give the wheels traction on grades or in wet weather.

The boiler is covered with a planished iron jacket held in place by brass bands. A handrail extends along the top of the boiler, and a slightly angled lever handle extends from the cab down to the cylinder location, to work the reversing gear. check valve is located just forward of the lead drive wheel, providing the boiler with fresh water to make steam, connected by a pump to water in the engines tender.

The engine is fitted with a "house," or cab, to protect the crew from inclement weather. This one is somewhat plain. A small headlamp is fitted at the front of the engine with a proportion typical of 1850s lamps.

The "cowcatcher" or pilot is the wooden stave construction at the front of the engine, to protect it from animals wandering America's unfenced rights of way. This one is somewhat distinctive in that its designed along the shape of a double V. This type of cowcatcher was once used in the New England States as well as the American Midwest, but fell from favor by 1870.

The cone shaped smokestack is common to American engines which burned wood fuel. The actual stack is straight and contained within the cone-shaped exterior hopper. Sparks are deflected by an interior baffle into the cone-shaped hopper. This was an attempt to reduce the danger of sparks setting fire to the surrounding countryside, often to the railroad's liability. This hopper gives the stack its distinctive appearance. ...

—Jim Wilke

4/10/2009 12:06 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Richard West"

Many thanks for your reply, which is the most detailed account of the stamp that I have seen and certainly exceeds the limits of my knowledge, resources and eyesight! Did you get this from documentary sources or just your own sharp observation?

Given that you say that it is an accurate depiction (which many stamps are not), I am surprised that no one has apparently managed to identify it in 130 years.

If it IS by Baldwin (something you don't mention), then it is clearly earlier than `Belle' and `Flirt', built by Baldwin for the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1853-54 (illustrated in E P Alexander's `Iron Horses'). However, as far as I can make out from the rip track website, Baldwin built very few 4-4-0s before 1854 - some earlier ones for the PRR and a batch for the Central Vermont (where Henry R Campbell was superintendent 1848-55, which may not be a coincidence).

I have been unable to track down any illustrations of early Baldwin 4-4-0s between 1845 (when Baldwin finally paid Campbell for the patent rights and built some 4-4-0s for the South Carolina which are illustrated in the `History of the Baldwin Locomotive Works') and `Belle' of 1853-54. ...

—Richard West

4/11/2009 6:36 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Richard West"

Any thoughts about the firebox – is it domed (Bury/roundtop), straight or wagon top? I can't really see and the rear dome seems very high.

I wonder if it might be Pennsylvania RR's Allegheny or Wyoming of 1850. White's book A History of the American Locomotive has an outline drawing of Allegheny but I haven't been able to find a picture of either. Any suggestions?

—Richard West

4/14/2009 12:33 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "John White"

It looks more generic than specific to me much like printers cuts of the period. Mr. West seems intent on the idea it's a particular engine.


4/14/2009 3:36 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Jim Wilke"

The stamp's engraver was clearly working from a reference image. We may not know what exact engine it was but its features can help determine the period and region the locomotive was built in.

Your engine is an early 1850s New England built machine.

The date can be determined by the confluence of wagontop boiler and steeply angled cylinders. The former was introduced around 1851-53, while the latter was an obsolete design by 1854. An engine with both features would have been made between this time.

Its region of manufacture can be determined by stylistic elements. The rounded wheel covers were common among several New England locomotive builders between 1852 and 1857, and sometimes by Ohio and Midwestern builders in the 1850s.

Mid Atlantic builders rarely used rounded wheel covers, and when they did it was a different style. Baldwin never used them, preferring box wheel covers or alternately, individual fenders. Baldwin's sandbox designs are also different from the one depicted in your stamp engraving.

If you would like to lean more about the possible origins of the stamp engine, I suggest looking into the works of Hinkley, Taunton, Manchester, Lawrence and other New England locomotive builders. They will give a better image of the actual engines your stamp is drawn from. There is also a series of books on the Central Vermont, the first volume of which has several similar engines.


4/16/2009 10:50 AM  

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