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CHAPTER XV

LANDING IN AMERICA

 

THE author was next, at a loss how to account for the long intervals some six weeks or more, which elapsed after the Stourbridge Lion arrived in New York, by Mr. Allen's letter, before its first appearance upon the railroad at Honesdale; when the prompt and indefatigable lady correspondent, Miss Blackman, again came to his relief with a statement abstracted from her own private journal, which was as follows:

From Morning Courier and New York Inquirer, June 12, 1829.

Locomotive-Engines.—We yesterday attended the first exhibition of a locomotive-engine, called The Lion, imported by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, to be used upon their railway. On Wednesday, the engine, just imported, was tried, and gave such general satisfaction, that the present exhibition was unanimously attended by gentlemen of science and particular intelligence. The engine was put up in Mr. Kimball's manufactory, by Horatio Allen, Esq., who went to England to purchase it for the company, and it gives us great satisfaction to say that the most important improvements which have lately been made in the construction of these engines originated with him. It is of nine horse power, having a boiler sixteen and a half feet long, with two cylinders, each of three-feet stroke. It is calculated to propel from sixty to eighty tons, at five miles per hour. The power is applied to each wheel at about twelve inches from the center, and the adhesive power of the wheel, arising from the weight of the engine, will give locomotion to the whole structure.

The steam was raised by the Lackawaxen coal, and sustained (although there was no friction) at between forty and fifty pounds to the inch.

We were delighted with the performance of the engine, and have no doubt but the enterprising company to whom it belongs will reap a rich reward for their enterprise and perseverance.

"Pleased as we were, however, with the engine, we were much more pleased with the practical demonstration offered, of the importance and usefulness of the coal which the company propose to bring to market. It is now reduced to a certainty that the Lackawaxen coal will generate steam in sufficient quantity to answer all the purposes to which it is applied, and this fact is not only of great importance to the company, but is worth millions to our State."

To the kindness of Mr. Yarrington, of Carbondale, Pennsylvania, we are indebted for the opportunity to examine an old file of the Dundaff Republican, published in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, for the year 1829. Under date of July 23, 1829, we find the following, announcing the arrival at Honesdale of the Stourbridge Lion from New-York, via Delaware and Hudson Canal:

The boats begin to arrive with the traveling-engines and railroad machinery; all is bustle and business. The engine intended for this end of the road is a plain, stout work of immense height, weighing about seven tons, and will travel four miles per hour, with a train of thirty to thirty-six carriages, loaded with two tons of coal each; the engine is called the Stourbridge Lion, its boiler being built something in shape of that animal, and painted accordingly. Now imagine to yourself the appearance of that animal, the body at least twelve feet in length and five in diameter, traveling at the rate of four or five miles per hour, together with a host of young ones in train, and you will have some idea of the scene before us; but the enchantment is broken, and in a few days the whole will be set in motion, and we will now give you information that, when the whole is in operation, we shall give a general notice that we intend to hold a day of rejoicing on the completion of the same, and shall give a general invitation to our fellow-citizens to attend.

We have procured a large cannon, and intend to station it on the top of the high peak, to sound on the occasion.

"A STRICT OBSERVER."

The following description of the locomotive Stourbridge Lion and its first experimental trip, from the pen of the Hon. John Torry, a resident of Honesdale, and a spectator of the events on that occasion, we will present in his own language:

HONESDALE, March 28, 1870.

WM. H. BROWN, ESQ.,—

DEAR SIR: Yours of the 16th last., asking for information and particulars respecting the trial-trip of the first locomotive in Honesdale, came duly to hand. I have conversed with numerous persons who I thought would be likely to remember incidents concerning it, and have seen my brother, who kept my father's accounts in 1829 (who was in Minnesota when C.F. Young, Esq., was seeking information).

From his memorandum made at the time, the precise slate of the trial is determined (viz., August 8, 1829). I have prepared a statement embodying so many of the incidents as it seems to me you would think of any interest, and probably including some which might better be omitted, as well as some which you will have obtained from other sources, and have appended as foot-notes such copies of the entries I have found as relate to the subject.

The statements I have made are partly from my own knowledge, partly such as I have obtained from interviews with persons who were present, and whose statements I consider reliable, and partly from written memoranda, from which I have made extracts. You can use so much of it as you think advisable, and in such form as you please.

Dr. Losey, to whom you wrote, died on the 9th last. The first locomotive run by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, on their railroad at Honesdale, was constructed in Stourbridge, England (a manufacturing town on the river Stour, some fifteen miles westward from Birmingham).

Its plan of construction was much less simple than that of those now in use. From the great number of its rods and joints, some who were observers of its experimental trial on the road, describe it as looking like a mammoth grasshopper, having three or four times the usual number of legs. Its driving-wheels were of oakwood, banded with a heavy wrought-iron tire, and the front was ornamented with 3 large, fierce-looking face of a lion, in bold relief, and it bore the name of "Stourbridge Lion."

This locomotive and two others, purchased by or made for the company in England, arrived in New York in May, 1829, and it was expected the company's railroad would be completed in time to have the celebration of the opening of the railroad, and of the running of the first locomotive upon it, on the 4th of July of that year. But the month August came before the railroad was so far completed that the formal opening could be attempted.

The locomotive having been transported by canal to Honesdale, the "Stourbridge Lion" was elevated, by the use of a temporary inclined plane, to the level of the railroad, and put in running order, and placed upon the rails; and everything thus got in readiness for the trial. On Saturday, August 8, 1829, the fire was kindled and steam raised, and, under the management of Mr. Horatio Allen, the "wonderful machine" was found capable of moving, to the great joy of the crowd of excited spectators. After running it back and forth on the portion of the road between the canal basin and the high railroad-bridge across the west branch of the Lackawaxen, Mr. Allen started it, with no person accompanying him, and without any car being attached, and ran it with good speed around the curve and across the bridge, and up the railroad about one and a half mile, to where the railroad was crossed by a common road-bridge, placed too low to admit of the passage of the locomotive under it. Here he reversed the engine and ran it back to the place of starting, greeted by the shouting cheers of the people and the booming of cannon. Mr. Alva Adams, a mechanic, while assisting to fire the cannon, had his arm so badly shattered that amputation became necessary.

After repeating the trial a few times, the "Stourbridge Lion" was removed from the track and left standing by the side of the railroad, with no covering, but a temporary roof, until the approach of winter.

These experiments demonstrated that the manner of construction of the railroad was not sufficiently firm and substantial for a locomotive-road, the rails being of hemlock-timber, six inches thick by twelve inches deep, keyed (or wedged) into gains cut in cross-ties of hemlock-timber, placed ten feet apart, with a flat bar of iron fastened by screws upon the top of the rail—the gauge (or width) of track being four feet three inches. They also demonstrated that the plan of construction of the locomotive was not such as to afford a probability of its being successfully used for the purpose designed, with any such changes in the road as were then deemed reasonable.

The failure of success was a great disappointment, not only to the directors and stockholders of the company, but also to the community, who were interested in the prosperity of the county.

While thus standing by the side of the railroad, it was an object of great dread to timid children who were obliged to pass by it; and many, now residing in Honesdale, remember the care they were accustomed to take, when children, to avoid passing near the fierce-looking "lion." In November, 1829, it was focused in with rough boards, as it thus stood beside the railroad, though some of the boards on the sides were soon displaced, to give opportunity for the curious to examine it more readily. It remained where thus housed some fourteen or fifteen years, until so many of its parts were detached or broken, that it was entirely disabled and considered worthless as a locomotive; when the boiler was removed to Carbondale, and used with a stationary engine in one of the company's shops, and the wheels, axles, and loose parts, were sold for old iron. Some of the loose parts are still kept as mementos of the first locomotive run upon a railroad in America. The boiler is now in use in Carbondale.

In the original "Labor Account" kept by Mr. Stephen Torry, for his father's Honesdale business, in 1829, is the following entry:

SATURDAY, August 8, 1829.

The locomotive-engine "Stourbridge Lion " was started by steam this morning.—Alva Adams had his arm blown of while firing the cannon.

No work was done until after the middle of forenoon.

In the accounts kept by Stephen Torry for his father, in 1829, is a charge to the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, under date of "November 7, 1829," for "boards to cover the steam-engine."

The foregoing extracts are true copies from the original papers relating to Jason Torry's business.

Respectfully,

JOHN TORRY.

Annexed a description of the engine by Mr. David Matthew, who had charge of the men who were employed to fit up the engine when it arrived in New York, and had been landed at the works of the West Point Foundry, New York.

Mr. Matthew writes, under date of December 6, 1829:

" The 'Stourbridge Lion' was a four-wheeled engine, with all four wheels connected by pins in the wheels. The boiler was a round cylindrical one; no drop part for the furnace, and the smoke-box had a well-painted lion's head on it. The cylinders were vertical, placed at the back and each side of the furnace, with grasshopper beams and connecting-rods from them to the crank-pins in the wheels. The back wheels and the side-rods between them and the front wheels; the out end of the beams were supported by a pair of radius rods which formed the parallel motion. This engine was built by Foster, Rastrick Aid Company, at Stourbridge, England."


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