FIRST ENGLISH LOCOMOTIVE
THE competition in England for the £500 prize attracted
many distinguished engineers, scientific men, and enterprising
gentlemen, from all parts of the world, to witness the contest.
Among the engineers from America was Horatio Allen, Esq., late
assistant engineer upon the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Railroad,
who was on a trip to England to examine into the improvements
in the new mode of intercommunication. Another enterprising gentleman
from America, who went out expressly to witness these experiments,
was Mr. E. L. Miller, of Charleston, South Carolina. Of this gentleman
we shall hereafter have occasion to speak more fully. While in
Europe, Mr. Horatio Allen was appointed by John B. Jervis, Esq.,
the chief engineer of the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Railroad
Company, to contract for the iron for the road just graded, and
also for three locomotives. Mr. Allen was an excellent person
for this important duty, as Mr. Jervis well knew, having been
associated with him in the construction of the road; he was an
engineer of distinction and experience. We shall have to speak
of him hereafter, in connection with the running of the first
locomotive imported and put upon a railroad in America.
In this work the author has promised to substantiate every
position he may assume, by giving to the readers all the evidence
upon which his statements are based, and thereby enable them to
judge for themselves as to the correctness of his history.
On this visit of Mr. Allen to England, he purchased for the
Delaware and Hudson Canal and Railroad Company three locomotives.
The " Stourbridge Lion " was one of these, and the first,
which soon after arrived in New York. Its performances in the
yard of the works where it was landed (the West Point Foundery
Works, foot of Beach Street) were witnessed by thousands, attracted
by the novelty of the machine. In a letter addressed to the author
by David Matthew, Esq., late of Philadelphia, who resided in New
York in 1829, and had charge of the men while fitting up the machinery
in the shops of the West Point Foundery Association, to whom the
author had addressed a letter making some inquiries, he writes:
PHILADELPHIA December 6, 1859.
Mr. WM. H. BROWN
DEAR SIR: Yours of the 20th November is received, inquiring
about the first locomotive imported into this country; the first
built here, and on what date and railroad it was run. In compliance
with your request, I herewith with pleasure send you the following
history, partly from memory and partly from records and memoranda
upon the subject in some documents I have preserved among a file
of old papers and documents.
"Some time about the middle of May, 1829, the locomotive
called the Stourbridge Lion arrived from England, on the ship
John Jay. It was landed at the wharf of the West Point Foundry
Works, foot of Beach Street, New-York City. This engine was in
charge of Horatio Allen, Esq., assistant engineer of the Delaware
and Hudson Canal and Railroad Company. The locomotive was blocked
up in our yard, and steam put to it from our works, and it became
the object of curiosity to thousands who visited the works from
day to day, to see the curious fretter "go through the motions
only, as there was no road for it about the premises. After a
short stay in New York, about the 1st of July, it was shipped
up the North River to Rondout, for the Delaware and Hudson Canal
Company, and thence by canal to Carbondale, where it was tried
upon their railroad at Honesdale, run a few miles out upon the
road, then taken off the track, the road not being sufficiently
strong to carry it. It was housed and held for sale for many years."
So much, at present, for Mr. Matthew's letter upon the first
English locomotive in America. To this letter, however, we will
hereafter again refer. Meantime, for the information of such of
our readers as may not be acquainted with the character and reputation
of Mr. Matthew, we will refer to the following certificates from
prominent and well-known citizens:
NEW YORK, March, 1831
Mr. David Matthew has served an apprenticeship of four years
and eleven months in the steam-engine factory of the West Point
Association, as a tinner and fitter-up, in course of which time
he has conducted himself to the entire satisfaction of his employers,
and I recommend him as a trusty and good workman.
"Agent for the West Point Association."
ALBANY, December 1,1831.
The bearer, Mr. David Matthew, has been employed to run the
locomotive De Witt Clinton on the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad,
since the opening of the work. I have often been on the engine
with him, and seen much of his management and conduct in reference
to his business, and believe him to be a sober, industrious man,
and well qualified for such work. I think him very prudent in
managing an engine.
JOHN B. JERVIS,
Chief Engineer Hudson and Mohawk Railroad.
SCHENECTADY, September 24, 1836.
By a resolution of the Board of Directors of the Utica and
Schenectady Railroad Company, passed September 23, 1835, David
Matthew is employed as chief locomotive engineer, at a salary
of one thousand one hundred dollars per year.
WM. C. YOUNG,
OFFICE OF THE UTICA AND SCHENECTADY RAILROAD COMPANY.
ALBANY, AUGUST 29, 1842.
To whom it may concern:
The bearer, Mr. David Matthew, has been employed by the company
during the past six and a half years, as chief locomotive engineer
and machinist, and in all respects has shown himself honest, industrious,
and intelligent, and is worthy of patronage and confidence.
These and many other evidences of Mr. Matthew's character and
reliability could be produced, but the foregoing will no doubt
be sufficient. From a mass of useful information received by the
author in several letters from John B. Jervis, Esq., who was in
1829 chief engineer of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company,
we make the following extracts is in reference to the arrival
of the first locomotive in America:
ROME, NEW YORK, JULY 17, 1870.
DEAR SIR: Yours of the 1st. was duly received; absence from
home and special duties have delayed my answer. As it required
the overhauling of papers forty years old, it could not be done
promptly. The name of the first locomotive ordered from England,
and the first in America, was the Stourbridge Lion, and to your
questions when and where it was landed, I will refer you to the
following letters addressed to me at the time, by Horatio Allen,
Esq., who was in New York City waiting its arrival, and had contracted
for it when in England. On referring to my papers, I find that
the engine arrived at Rondout on the way to Honesdale from New
York, on the 4th of July, 1829. My recollections are that it was
put in motion on the Carbondale Railroad, at Honesdale, in August,
same year, most probably the early part of August. This locomotive
and two or three others were obtained from England for the said
road, but only the Lion was set up. It worked very well, and no
doubt would have done good service, had the trestle-work (of which
there was a large portion on the road) been sufficient to sustain
the weight of the engine in working. It was the intention of having
engines of one and a quarter ton on a wheel as the heaviest; but
the builders of the engine at that time had little experience,
and when the machine was constructed it was found to have nearly
two tons on a wheel, and this the road was not designed for. Subsequently
the road has been made a gravity railroad, all the power in both
directions being stationary; which is no doubt the best economy
for the circumstances and nature of the traffic.
Mr. Allen's letters, which follow, will give you all necessary
facts relative to the arrival of the first locomotive in America.
In regard to the present officers of the Delaware and Hudson Canal
Company, I have little acquaintance with them; all the old ones
are gone, excepting, perhaps, Isaac N. Seymour, who was for many
years treasurer (now retired), and living in New York. He could
give you much information, by referring to the file of letters
for 1829, in the office of the company in New York, including
those of August; they would give the time of the running of the
engine at Honesdale, in letters from Mr. Horatio Allen to myself.
In your last letter to me, you make some inquiries concerning
my invention of the principle of using the truck under the front
part of the engine, to support and to govern the machine in running
curves. I believe I sent you, some time since, a copy of my work
upon railway property, etc. In that work, commencing at page 153,
you will find all the information upon that subject you may desire.
I shall only say here that I was the inventor, and put in successful
operation, the locomotive-truck.
I notice that they are giving more attention to it in England,
where they heretofore had strong prejudices against it, and now
they attribute it, as a new thing, to Farlie, who introduced it
in some new and small machinery in England. All that Farlie has
done is simply to adopt my truck. Wishing you great success in
your undertaking, I am very truly yours,
JOHN B. JERVIS.
We will hereafter notice the improvement alluded to by Mr.
Jervis, in the last paragraph of his highly interesting letter,
viz., the introduction of the truck under the front part of the
engine. Of this improvement he is, no doubt, the inventor, having
put it in successful operation in this country, nearly forty years
ago, as we are prepared to show, England's claim to the contrary
JOHN B. JERVIS, Esq.
NEW YORK, May 12, 1829.
We at length have something definite on the subject of our
locomotive. The Canada, that sailed from Liverpool April 18th,
arrived this afternoon, and brings us news of the shipment of
our locomotive, on April 8th, on the John Jay, which has not yet
got in, though it sailed one week before the Canada.
JOHN B. JERVIS, ESQ.
NEW YORK, May 17, 1829.
The John Jay has arrived, as I informed you. On Monday the
engine is to be landed, and sent to Kimball's establishment. I
hope to have it all together and in operation by Saturday next.
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