Chicago Tribune, October 21, 1872
Burke once said, that the civilization of Europe depended upon two principles, viz: the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion. In America, religion has had much to do with civilization, and from its influences we have received some of our grandest principles. But it may with reason be declared that much of the civilization of America has depended for the past twenty-five years upon the locomotive engine. It has been the motive power in all the wonderful progression we have made for many years past. If it had never been invented, the civilization of this age would have come only after the lapse of centuries of ages in the future.
Perhaps the greatest work of this wonderful animal has been doing is the building of this City of Chicago. No one will gainsay the assertion that the City of Chicago owes her existence to the “Iron Horse”—that it gave to her a power which fire could not destroy, and a vitality more vigorous than any city in the world. Take from Chicago the “Iron Horse,” and a human body without blood would possess about as much. Since, then, this “Iron Horse” has done so much for us, it may not be uninteresting to give here somewhat of his pedigree, his grand career in this city, and a few hastily gathered facts concerning his labor, food, and average life. In so doing, we shall consider only the American “Iron Horse,” since he is the animal which has done the great work for us.
The American “Iron Horse” was sired by Mathias W. Baldwin, in the city of Philadelphia, on the 25th day of April, 1831. He was created, not to supply the necessities of commerce, but the necessities of the museum of Mr. Franklin Peale, of that city. Of course he was but the “Iron Horse” in miniature, but was, nevertheless, a most wonderful invention. He was visited by many thousands, and his swift manipulations upon a track laid within the museum walls, astonished and confounded all who witnessed them. The enterprise of museum managers has produced many stupendous frauds, and for this reason it has been severely denounced. But when one remembers that, employing the genius of a wonderful inventor, it was the enterprise of a museum manager, which inaugurated the manufacture of the locomotive engine in the United States, he will not so severely denounce it.
The construction of this miniature machine suggested the idea of the construction of an Iron Horse of larger dimensions, one useful for commerce. With the exception of a few English engines, the locomotives of which had been very imperfect, the motive power of the few railroads then in the United States, was furnished by horses. But the need for steam power had been felt. The locomotive in the museum had not ran many months before Mr. Baldwin was solicited by the Germantown, Norristown & Hamburg Railroad to make for them a locomotive. Mr. Baldwin at first refused to do so, fearing that a failure would be the result of his labors. He was finally, however, prevailed upon to commence the work. Guided only by observations made upon an old and very imperfect English engine stored in a shed at Boardentown, N. J., and the experience acquired in the construction of the miniature engine, he began to work. After encountering untold difficulties, he had the honor of completing the first American locomotive engine. It made its trial trip on the 23d day of November 1832. This engine was named, “Old Ironsides,” a name which has become familiar since the late war. Its wheels, of which there were four, were all drivers, its cylinders were 9½ inches in diameter, and its stroke 18 inches. The trial trip of this engine excited greater wonder and surprise than the exhibition of any inventive genius has ever produced. The manipulations of the engine were not quite perfect, and she failed to do all that was promised of her. This produced dissatisfaction, and the Directors of the road refused to pay the price at which she was contracted, viz., $4,000. A compromise was finally effected at $3,500, a price far below the average cost even of locomotives now-a-days. The difficulty in the settlement, and the many difficulties Mr. Baldwin encountered in the construction of the “Ironsides” made him resolve to quit the business at once, and he was heard to remark, “that is our last locomotive.” But this was only the language of vexation, for it was not only after this that he took orders for other engines, and he afterwards established the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia. Mr: Baldwin lived to see the productions of his most remarkable genius become the greatest in power in the world, the lead-horses of American civilization. It may be here remarked, that before Mr. Baldwin had built his fifth engine, he had succeeded in overcoming almost all of the defects of his first engine and so perfect an engine did he succeed in building, that, in the main, it has been little improved upon. Indeed, so far as principles go, there are few important and complicated pieces of machinery in which there have been less alterations. The improvements of the most important character were made, in the main, during the infancy of their manufacture, and the latter improvements are rather conveniences than necessities. But these latter improvements although properly called conveniences, have added much to the working of the locomotive.
Baldwin Locomotive Works
But while there have been but few improvements of great moment since the infancy of the manufacture of locomotives, and, indeed as in the case of the boilers, a return to first inventions, it yet must not therefore be thought that there is no room for further improvement in the locomotive engine. Despite its power to dash over mountains, through valleys, and across rivers, at a speed which leads the winds, it may vet be much improved upon. Many defects might be mentioned, Locomotive engineers have had no tougher problem to solve than that of burning coal successfully and economically. One of the chief difficulties to be overcome, is the destruction of the fire boxes and flues, After years of experiment, the practice has not much changed, except in the proportions of the boilers. There was, indeed, great difficulty found at first, in using coal at all, because the size of the fire-box required for wood was smaller than that needed for coal, so that it became hard to make steam enough with the old boilers. But it was discovered that there was no necessity for so much grate surface and the engines were proportioned accordingly. There have been many inventions to protect the flues and fire-boxes. Among these the invention of Mr. C. F. Jewett is one of the best. This device, while it saves the flues, and consumes 30 per cent less coal than tbe ordinary fire-box will consume all smoke if properly cared for. it is also claimed, that with It an engine will steam better. It is in general use on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Road, of which Mr. Jewett was, until recently, the master mechanic. The first engines hade used only wood. But now, despite the distinction of flues and fire-boses, all roads are using, as far as possible, coal-burners.
There is room for improvement, also in the placing of the weight of the engine and tender on the drivers, so that there shall be the smallest possible amount of dead weight. It is well known by railroad men that the weight of an ordinary eight-wheeled locomotive, with loaded tender, is 94,000 pounds, 40,000 pounds only of which weight is utilized by the driving wheels, leaving 54,000 pounds of dead weight. How, if greater weight is thrown upon the drivers, the wheel base is made too long, and the engine will traverse curves roughly. If the weight is upon the trucks the adhesion is lost. These are difficulties which, without resorting to an engine of a reverse build from that now used, it seems impossible to overcome. But the genius of invention seems to partake so largely of the power of divinity, that it is not unreasonable to believe that, in time, all the imperfections will be overcome.
Birdseye View of the Chicago Railway System
Among the many improvements made in the locomotive engine that may be mentioned, are the steam setting valves by which all pressure is kept off the valves; the steam injector, by means of which an engne can be pumped up when standing still; the improved graduator for regulating more accurately the admission of steam into the cylinders. There are many other improvements, that deserve mention, but our space will not permit us to refer to them.
There is no important machine, upon the improvements in which there have been so few patents, as the locomotive. Hence the best improvements are found in all engines, no matter where they were built. This prevents, in a great measure, the engine of one maker from acquiring a character of its own. Said a distinguished master-mechanic to the writer the other day:
Remove the builder’s plate from an engine, and, if there were no exterior adornments, which were familiar to me as peculiar to any maker’s engine, I doubt not I would be unable to tell you where it was built.
To be sure, Engineers have their favorite engines, but not one in twenty can give you any technical reason for his preference. The Baldwin engine ia preferred by some roads because all engines of a class, manufactured by these works, are duplicates so that an engine is easily repaired. The engines are preferred by others, because there is little cast-iron used in their construction. Engines are generally built upon order, and the purchaser generally orders the engine to be made after his own ideas. But all roads agree that locomotives of their own construction are superior to those made by regular builders. The reasons assigned are that they are more careful in selecting material, and that, instead of the various parts being manufactured by men skilled only to make one piece of the engine, as is the ease in large locomotive works, they are made and fitted by experienced machinists to all parts of the engine. And this leads us to the question, Will the various roads ultimately manufacture their own engines? In this there is much difference of opinion. Some roads say they can build engines cheaper than they can buy; others say not, and the general conclusion seems to be that where a road is compelled to have large repair shops, and employ. a large number of experienced machinists, it can build its own engines cheaper than they can he bought, but otherwise not, since the the work in the regular locomotive works is done mainly by apprentices, whose wages are comparatively small. The Pittsburgh & Fort Wayne Road are building all their own engines and have taken a few orders from other roads. But this they would not do, were they not compelled to cary on a repair shop. All the roads are constantly building engines, but it is done mainly to keep employed the men they are compelled to employ to do the repairs.
We shall now proceed to give a few general statements regarding the “Iron Horse,” which have been gleaned mainly from practical railroad men.
The average cost of the “Iron Horse” is $12,000. The prices vary of course, with the size and quality. There are engines and many of them too, valued at $35,000; and there are others valued at $5,000. The prices of engines have been increasing, rather than decreasing, with the improvements that have been added to them. Perhaps this is the case with all valuable inventions. The average weight of the “Iron Horse” is 60,000 pounds. This does not diminish or increase, as he retains, unlike most horses, the same weight from year to year. The average life of an engine is 25 years; that is to say, that the machinery proper will, by annual repairs last that length of time, although the frame will last for an indefinite period. The boiler generally lasts about 14 years, while the valve has to be renewed every year. The “Iron Horse” will travel, on an average of 30,000 miles a year, or 750,000 miles in a lifetime. The “Iron horse” costs its owners for food and care, about 20 cents per mile run, and for repairs about 8 cents. No engine on any well regulated road travels longer than a year without being taken-apart and given a general housecleaning, as it were, just as a tailor rips up an old garment, examines every and stitch, so the iron horse is torn asunder, his legs are removed, his ribs exposed, and his stomach thoroughly cleansed, his outside clothing is repolished, his cheeks repainted, and he is brought out as new and perfect as when he first rode the track.
The manufacture of locomotive engines in Chicago, is matter which is possessed of much importance. It was begun by Scovell & Sons, but, from capital and experience, they compelled to suspend operations. The great number of railroads in the west makes it an imperative and important necessity that there be large and important locomotive works in the West. Chicago, with her splendid system of railroads, her convenience to all the raw materials used in the building of locomotives, must yet become great in the building of locomotive engines. Prominent railroad men have informed the writer within the past week, that locomotive works must be established somewhere in the West, and that no place possesses greater natural advantages for the successful carrying on of the work than Chicago. It is difficult to understand why our capitalists are not interesting themselves in this matter. All the raw materials is at our doors, and there exists not one difficulty in the way of the establishment of locomotive works in Chicago which shall rival any Eastern builders. We trust something maybe done in this matter before another year passes.
The career of the “Iron Horse” in Chicago has been one of the most remarkable on record. The time made has never been beaten, and the money won in the race has made Chicago notable as the place where the per cent of profit is large. When the idea of bringing the “Iron Horse” to Chicago was first agitated, there were men who frowned at it, and shook their heads with all the wisdom of ignorance. It was said by them that the railroad w ould ruin the country trade of Chicago. Perhaps it is seU for these gentlemen that their names were never given, for they would assuredly have become synonyms for all things absurd and ridiculous.
Galena and Chicago. Great Western Mail Route
The first railroad company in Chicago was the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad. It was organized April 5, 1847. The late John B. Turner was the active manager. By Dec. 15, 1848, the first ten miles of the road had been completed, and the first locomotive west of Lake Michigan had been put upon the track.
The “Iron Horse” began its race in Chicago on the morning of the 10th day of October, 1848, but a little more than 24 years ago. The engineer, to whom was given the honor of holding the reins in the inauguration of this wonderful race, was John Ebert, Esq. This gentleman is still a resident of the city, and we shall refer to him again before the close of this article. The engine was aptly termed the “Pioneer,” and -was one of the first built at the shops of Mathias W. Baldwin. These shops were established in 1832, and the Pioneer was constructed in 1836. She was a second-hand engine, and was purchased by the Galena company from the Rochester & Batavia Railroad in New York. Her cylinder was 11lx8. She had two driving wheels, 54 inches in diameter, and weighed 2,400 lbs. Her frame was wood. This old citizen, although now 36 years old, is still doing service as switch engine for the C. & N. W. Road, into which the Galena road was merged a few years ago. She has been partly rebuilt, but is stil the same quaint, saucy looking machine she was the morning of the 10th of October. 1848, when she began the wonderful race of the “Iron Horse in Chicago.” Would it not be showing her proper honors for the city to purchase her, and place her on exhibition, as the lead-horse of the great train of 1,899 iron horses which daily run out of the city.
Chicago & Northwestern “Pioneer” in 1898
Retired in 1875
By the report of the Superintendent of the Galena & Chicago Union Road, made April 5, 1849, we learn that “the Company have on hand one second-hand locomotive, which is in good order and will answer all the purposes of the read for some time to come. A new 15-ton engine has been contracted for with Morris & Bros. of Philadelphia, and will be sent when navigation opens.” It also says that one trip a day will continue to be made, when it will not interfere with the construction of the road;” after a lapse of twenty-four years fully 370 trips are made a day. The engine referred to as being contracted for, was the second engine brought to Chicago. She was aptly termed the “Active,” and was brought here when “navigation opened” in the spring of 1850. She was a Norris engine, built in 1849. The diameter of her cylinder was 11½ by 22 inches. She had double drivers and weighed 40,000 pounds. Her frst engineer was Peter Ebert, brother of John. This gentleman is dead. This engine is still in active service as 4 switcher. She was rebuilt by the Galena & Chicago Union in ’63.
The third engine in Chicago was the Elgin. She was an exact duplicate of the Active. She was engineered by Nato Norton, who is now dead. Then followed tbe Whitiesy, by Jas. Clark. This engine was afterward traded to the Aurora Boad, in whose service it still continues. Then followed the Rocket, which -was the first engine on the Aurora Road. This was a Hinkly engine, drop hook motion, 14×20 cylinder. She is now switching in the switch-yard of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. The Pigeon was the first engine on the Michigan Central. The Marion was the pioneer engine of the Chicago. & St. Louis Road.
The seventh engine of the Galena Road was the Illinois. This engine crossed the ocean before she sailed the lakes. She was built by the Norria Works, for the Emperor of Russia. She was shipped by Mr. Norris to Liverpool, according to the agreement. The Emperor allowed her to lay in a warehouse at Liverpool for a number of years, where she was sold to pay storage. Mr. Norris bought her, and he Was reshipped to Philadelphia. A few months afterward she was sold to the Galena Road. She is still on duty, the survivor of much travel and rough usage. None of the pioneer engines of the Chicago roads have been subjected to severe accidents, and, so far as can be ascertained, they are all in service in some capacity or other. The engineers of these engines have not fared so well. Mr. John Ebert, the first engineer of a locomotive in Chicago, still lives in the city. After serving a year as engineer, he was made Master Mechanic of the Galena Road, which position he held twelve years. He was afterward Assistant Superintendent for two years. He then retired from railroading, and is now superintendent of the heating department at the Court House. Mr. Ebert was also the first engineer to ran an engine out from Detroit, which he did in the winter of 1838, on the Michigan CentraL He is now in his 57th year, is a man of comfortable fortune, full of youthful energy, and surrounded by a happy family. Mr. Ebert has played no unimportant part in the history of railroads in the West. We are indebted to him for much of the matter herein contained regarding the old engines of the city. Mr. Dan. McManman was the second engineer in Chicago, he having succeeded Mr. Ebert on the Pioneer. He is still a resident of the city, and is the engineer in one of the Bridgeport blast furnaces. Mr. Peter Ebert and Nate Norton were the next engineers; both are dead. James Clark, the fifth engineer in Chicago, is now living at Pike’s Peak. Be ran one enge five years without an accident of any kind what ever. Mr. Cooley, foreman at the round houses of the C., B. & Q. R. R., was one of the pioneer engineers of Chicago. He ran the Rocket, the first engine on the Aurora Road, now merged into the C., B. & Q. This gentleman ran the Westwind six years, without the slightest accident and he ran fourteen years himself, without accident. Did our space permit, we would make mention of many other engineers, whose honorable records in running for a long period of time, without accident, make them worthy of public mention.
We shall close this article with a few general statements regarding the number of “Iron Horses” there are on the roads in the city, their value, and other matters of general interest.
There are now on the roads in this city, 1,899 engines, valued on an average of $12,000 apiece. This would make their total value $22,788,000. These engines are distributed as follows:
Chicago & Northwestern, 270
Pittsburgh Fort Wayne & Chicago, 233
Chicago & St. Louis, 144
Illinois Central, 197
Chicago, Danville & Vincennes, 21
Michigan Central. 205
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, 201
Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, 346
Rock Island & Pacific 182.
The number of regular daily trains the “Iron Horse” pulls out of the city is 178; and the number in, 169, making a total Of 337 regular trains. If we add to these the average number of irregular trains, we have a grand total of 370 daily trains. The following will show at a glance something Of the work “the Iron Horse in Chicago” performs in a year: He takes out, and brings in, 135,050 trains a year. He earns about $83,000,000; He brings in a profit of $29,175,119. He transports over the various roads he travels upwards of 6,000,000 passengers, or about one-seventh of the population of the world. He represents $400,000,000 of capital.
Surely the “Iron Horse in Chicago” is a power that shall build up a city, to which no limit may now be put. And this railroad interest is yet in its infancy. When the “great West ” shad be settled up, and her vast resources freely developed, this railroad interest in Chicago will be greater than the mind of man can now comprehend.
Chicago & Northwestern “Pioneer” in 2007
Chicago History Museum
The following extracts are taken from a contribution to the Philadelphia Norlh American:
Americans, generally speaking, appear to have a very limited degree of information in regard to the history of the locomotive and power of steam travelling. Few of this day are aware that, as early as 1809, twenty years before the trial trip on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, Oliver Evans endeavored to establish a railway between New York and Philadelphia, offering to embark every dollar he was worth in the enterprise. Yet such is the fact. There being no railways in America, Mr. Evans, In 1787 sent draughts and specifications of his plans to England by Captain Masters, of Annapolis, Maryland. In 1794-5, he again sent thither his plans by Joseph Stacy Sampson, of Boston, Mass., and yet again in 1799 he sent thither his plan by Charles Taylor. In short, from the fact that Richard Trevithick, who in 1803 patented in England the high-pressure locomotive, introduced into Cornwall the cylindrical-flue boiler invented by Oliver Evans for his high-pressure engines, there is hardly a reasonable doubt but that he appropriated without acknowledgement the inventions of Mr. Evans.
Oliver Evans plan for a railway was that it “be laid so nearly level as not to deviate in any place more than two degrees from a horizontal line, made of wood or iron on smooth parks of broken stone or gravel, with a rail to guide the carriages so that they may pass each other in directions, and travel by night as well as by day.” The sole reason why the locomotive was not used on rails in America years before it was in Great Britain, was because its inventor (Oliver Evans) had not of his own means sufficient to build a railway, and he could not induce Americans of his day to subscribe one dollar. Hence it was that he aimed to run his device on turnpikes, and invited co-operation, pointing at the time to the eminent success of his elevator, the hopper-boy, and his other inventions, which had revolutionized the manufacture of flour; also, to his invention for making machine cards, as evidences of the general correctness of his views, but he failed to obtain co-operation, and, the more fortunate Watt (who had enlisted for the low-pressure engine men of capital), Mr. Evans was compelled to furnish himself both the mental and pecuniary means for those practical demonstrations which he from time to time conducted, and referring back to which, some thirty years afterward, Elijah Galloway, the British writer on steam, declared proved Oliver Evans to be not only the first inventor of the locomotive, but also of the first practical steamboat.
Unable to move his countrymen, Mr. Evans rendered the following remarkable prophecy:
The present generation will use canals, the next generation will prefer railroads, with horses, but their more enlightened successors will employ my steam carriage on railways, as the perfection of the art of conveyance. In the meantime the steam carriage may be tested even on the present turnpikes.
As Oliver Evans died in 1819, and the above prediction was rendered several years prior to his death, none, with the events of today in view, can fail to remark its perfect fulfillment.