Friday, November 10, 2017

B&O Tom Thumb and 1832 Locomotive

A replica of the Tom Thumb was in the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair because it was the locomotive that raced a horse on B&O's first segment of track to demonstrate the viability of using steam locomotives for trains. Peter Cooper built the locomotive in 1830 to demonstrate that steam locomotion was viable.
As legend goes, when the race began the "Tom Thumb" rather quickly began outpacing its live counterpart and was able to achieve a top speed of between 10 to 15 mph. However, during the race the locomotive's blower belt came off the pulley, which caused it to lose its steam pressure eventually allowing the horse to catch up, pass, and win the contest. [American-Rails]
Please see American-Rails for more of the history, and BOrail has information and a link to a photo album.

B&O management was impressed by the demonstration and we see below that by 1832 they had a much more sophisticated locomotive in commercial operation. But I can't determine if that locomotive was made in England or the US. The early US railroads obtained locomotives, and rail, from England.

Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)



I notice a date of 1832 on this locomotive. The passenger cars were what people knew how to make back then --- stage coaches. They were probably mounted on mining car wheels.

Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
The locomotive used four independently sprung wheels. Note the leaf springs above the frame. Since the Tom Thumb achieved 10-15mph during its race with a horse until a belt failed, this locomotive probably could do 16mph. Back then that was considered scary fast because that is significantly more than a horse could pull a stage coach.
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
Getting it ready for the next pagent show.
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)

Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)

Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)

Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
Photo from WW2 RADIO's album: Chicago Railroad Fair - 1948 (source)
Update:
Carl Venzke posted
Paul Maurone An original grasshopper.
[Given the round shape of the building, I assumed that this is in the B&O Museum. The museum calls this locomotive the Atlantic or Andrew Jackson.]





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