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CHAPTER XIV

DATE OF ITS RUNNING

 

THE exact date of the arrival and landing of the first English locomotive that was ever run upon a railroad in America being now settled by Mr. Horatio Allen's letters to John B. Jervis, Esq., the next object of the author was to learn upon what day that engine was first run upon a railroad. For this purpose, by advice of Mr. Jervis, he addressed a letter to C. F. Young, Esq., the present general superintendent of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad and Canal Company. Previously to receiving Mr. Young's answer, the author addressed a letter to Thomas Dickenson, Esq., the president of the company, to which he received the following reply.

DELAWARE AND HUDSON CANAL COMPANY,

SCRANTON February 26, 1870. WM. H BROWN, Esq.,

DEAR SIR: I have yours of the l9th last. C. F. Young, of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, our general superintendent, has been looking up, for you, the matters you refer to, and has doubtless written you ere this. In a conversation I had with him, Young, a few days ago, he told me that the time of the trial-trip he had found positively to have been between the 3d and 8th of August, 1829. That it was in 1829, and on one of the days mentioned, there is not the shadow of a doubt, and that it was the first locomotive run upon this continent is beyond question.

We take pleasure in affording you every opportunity in making a your investigation; and, that there may be no mistake, I will enclose your letter to Mr. Young, that his attention may be called to it again.

Very truly yours,

THOMAS S. DICKENSON, President.

Almost the same mail brought the long-looked-for letter from Mr. Young; and, as he gives the date of the first day's trial near to the consummation of the author's desire upon that subject, we evils, as we promised our readers, present Mr. Young's letter, just as it was written, as every portion of it is of interest:

OFFICE OF GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT,

DELAWARE AND HUDSON CANAL COMPANY,

HONESDALE, PA., February 23, 1870. WM. H. BROWN ESQ.,—

DEAR SIR: I owe you an apology for the long delay in furnishing you what information I might be able to obtain respecting the date of the experimental trip of the first locomotive-engine imported by our company. I waited to hear from a gentleman who was to have examined a file of newspapers, published at Montrose, Susquehanna County, in 1829; but I have not yet heard from him. I have not been able, from any thing I can find in the books or papers of the company, to fix the exact day on which the trial-trip took place. I find from our collector's books, at Eddyville, that two locomotive-engines were cleared at that office, and started up the canal, July 16, 1829. I do not find any record of their arrival at Honesdale, which was probably five or six days thereafter.

The old inhabitants of this place, who were present at the time, agree that the experimental trip was made in August, 1829. John Torry informs me that he finds in the books of his father, Jason Torry, a charge against the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, dated August 3, 1829, for labor of men and horses, drawing stones, 'this day,' to load a railroad-car. This car, loaded with stone, is understood and believed to be the one which was to be attached to the locomotive on its trial trip. I find many, who were present at the time, remember the car-load of stone designed to be attached to the locomotive on its trial-trip. At the celebration, on the day the experiment was made, a young man, by the name of Alva Adams, had his arm badly shattered by the premature discharge of the cannon which was used. Dr. E. T. Losey, who is now living here, assisted in amputating the arm and afterward attended the patient. Dr. Losey finds the charge on his books, for amputating, dated August 8, 1829. The trial-trip, no doubt, took place some time from the 3d to the 8th of August, 1829. Dr. Losey thinks the arm was amputated the same day on which the injury was received; but says he might have omitted to make the charge for three or four days, but is not certain of this.

I have had the file of letters for 1829 examined, at our office in New York, without finding any letters from John B. Jervis or Horatio Allen which fix the date of the experiment. I am of opinion that there were such letters, and that they have been lent to some previous explorer, who has failed to return them.

John B. Jervis's annual report for 1829 I have examined (it is now in our New-York office); but, while he speaks of the causes of failure as to the success of the locomotive, he does not give the day on which the experiment was made.

I am sorry that I am unable to fix the exact day on which the trial trip of the first locomotive was made, but there is no doubt it occurred some time from the 3d to the 8th of August, 1829. Yours very truly,

C. F. YOUNG,

General Superintendent.

Determined to leave no stone unturned and no effort untried to establish the exact day the first locomotive was run upon a railroad in America, the author (taking the hint from Mr. Young's letter) addressed the postmaster of Montrose, relative to the old file of newspapers said to be in existence, stating the object of his inquiry. In a few days he received a reply from a lady, Miss Emily C. Blackman, offering her aid and services in examining the said file, and through her energy and perseverance he received much valuable information, by following which, he was rewarded with complete success. In one of Miss Blackman's letters, she corroborates Mr. Young's information, by the following extract from the Montrose paper:

Melancholy Accident. We are informed that a young man, by the name of Adams, was severely injured on Saturday last, at Honesdale, by the sudden and unexpected discharge of a cannon. Adams and others were engaged in firing signals on starting the locomotive-engine.

From the Dundaff Republican, but no date.

Through the kindness of Miss Blackman, the author learned that a file of the Dundaff Republican of 1829 could be obtained from Dilton Yarrington, Esq., of Carbondale; who, on application, kindly forwarded the same to the author. From this file, under date of Thursday, August 13, 1829, we extract the following:

"Melancholy Accident.—We are informed that a young man, by the name of Adams, was severely injured on Saturday last, at Honesdale," etc., etc.


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