- John Bull (locomotive)
caption=The "John Bull", c. 1893.
Robert Stephenson and Company
Camden and Amboy Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad(initial preservation)
4-2-0(although built by Stephenson as an 0-4-0)
boiler=2 ft 6 in (0.76 m) diameter x
6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) length
firegrate=10.07 sq ft (0.935 ²)
cylindersize=9 in (22.86 cm) diameter x
20 in (50.8 cm) stroke
driversize=4 ft 6 in (1.37 m) diametercite journal| journal=Railway Age Gazette| pages=p 672| volume=51| issue=14| date=October 6, 1911| title=Shop Safeguards| author=Burlingame, Luther D.| ]
wheelbase=4 ft 11 in (1.4 m)
between driving axles
framesize=14 ft 9 in (4.5 m) length x
6 ft 3 in (1.9 m) width
firstrundate=September 15, 1831
uicclass=1'1A (built as B)
deliverydate=September 4, 1831
restoredate=September 15, 1981
disposition=Static display in
officialname="Stevens" (after C&A president
Robert L. Stevens)
firearea=10.07 sq ft (0.935 m²)
The "John Bull" is an English-built
railroad steam locomotivethat operated in the United States. It was operated for the first time on September 15, 1831, and it became the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institutionoperated it in 1981.cite web| url=http://historywired.si.edu/detail.cfm?ID=225| title=John Bull Locomotive| work=History Wired| publisher=Smithsonian Institution| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ] Klein and Bell, pp 280–1.] Built by Robert Stephenson and Company, the "John Bull" was initially purchased by and operated for the Camden and Amboy Railroad, the first railroad in New Jersey, which gave "John Bull" the number 1 and its first name, "Stevens". The C&A used the locomotive heavily from 1833 until 1866, when it was removed from active service and placed in storage.
After the C&A's assets were acquired by the
Pennsylvania Railroad(PRR) in 1871, the PRR refurbished and operated the locomotive a few times for public displays: it was steamed up for the Centennial Expositionin 1876 and again for the National Railway Appliance Exhibition in 1883. In 1884 the locomotive was purchased by the Smithsonian Institutionas the museum's first major industrial exhibit.
In 1939 the employees at the PRR's Altoona,
Pennsylvaniaworkshops built an operable replica of the locomotive for further exhibition duties, as the Smithsonian desired to keep the original locomotive in a more controlled environment. After being on static display for the next 42 years, the Smithsonian commemorated the locomotive's 150th birthday in 1981 by firing it up, making it the world's oldest surviving operable steam locomotive. Today, the original "John Bull" is on static display once more in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Historyin Washington, D.C.. The replica "John Bull" is preserved at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
Construction and initial use
The "John Bull" was built in Newcastle, England by
Robert Stephenson and Companyfor the Camden and Amboy Railroad(C&A), the first railroad built in New Jersey.cite web| url=http://www.rrmuseumpa.org/about/roster/johnbull.shtml| title=Camden & Amboy John Bull Replica| publisher=Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania| year=2008| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ] cite book| url=http://books.google.com/books?id=ThOh8bBIN9QC&dq=John+Bull+locomotive&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0| title=American Railway Transportation| author=Johnson, Emory Richard| year=1908| pages=pp 41–42| publisher=D. Appleton| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ] It was dismantled and then shipped across the Atlantic Oceanin crates aboard the "Allegheny". C&A engineer Isaac Drippsreconstructed the locomotive to the best of his ability (the shipment did not include any drawings or instructions to assemble the locomotive) and ran it for the first time in September 1831.Carter, p 140.] [Whittemore, p 32.] On November 12, 1831, Robert Stevens (then president of the C&A) repaid some political debts by inviting several members of the New Jerseylegislature and some local dignitaries, including Napoleon's nephew Prince Murat, for rides behind the newly delivered locomotive over a short test track. The prince's wife, Catherine Willis Gray, made a point of hurrying onto the train so she could be declared the first woman to ride a steam-powered train in America.cite web| url=http://www.prrths.com/Hagley/PRR1831%20June%2004.wd.pdf| title=PRR Chronology: 1831| publisher=Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society| month=June | year=2004| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| format=PDF| ] Wilson, p 225.]
Until the railroad construction was completed, the locomotive was placed in storage; horse-drawn cars served the construction efforts until 1833. The C&A applied both numbers and names to their first locomotives, giving this engine the number 1 and officially naming it "Stevens" (after the C&A's first president,
Robert L. Stevens).Whittemore, p 30.] However, through regular use of the engine, crews began calling it "the old John Bull", a reference to the cartoon personification of England, John Bull. Eventually the informal name was shortened to "John Bull" and this name was much more widely used until the "Stevens" name fell out of use in favor of "John Bull".
In September 1836 the "John Bull" and two coaches were shipped by canal to Harrisburg, and became the first locomotive to operate there.Wilson, p 54.]
Mechanical modifications and early exhibitions
Stephenson built the locomotive originally as an
0-4-0(an 0-4-0 is the Whyte notationfor a steam locomotive with two powered axles and no unpowered leading or trailing axles). The locomotive's power was transmitted to the driving axles through pistons that were mounted under the boiler between the two front wheels and in front of the front axle. These inside cylinders' main rods were connected to a rear crank axle with a connecting rodbetween the two axles to power the front axle.
Due to poorer quality track than was the norm in its native England, the locomotive had much trouble with derailment; the C&A's engineers added a
leading truck(an assembly consisting of an unpowered axle with smaller diameter wheels that was connected to the frame and pushed in front of the locomotive) to help guide the engine into curves. The leading truck's mechanism necessitated the removal of the connecting rod between the two main axles, leaving only the rear axle powered. Effectively, the "John Bull" became a 4-2-0(a locomotive with two unpowered leading axles followed by one powered axle and no unpowered trailing axles). Later, the C&A also added a pilot ("cowcatcher") to the lead truck.Klein and Bell, pp 283–287.] The cowcatcher is an angled assembly designed to deflect animals and debris off of the railroad track in front of the locomotive. To protect the locomotive's crew from the weather, the C&A also added walls and a roof (a cab) to the rear of the locomotive where the controls were located. C&A workshop crews also added safety features such as a bell and headlight.
After several years serving as a switching engine (a locomotive used for moving railroad cars around within a railroad yard; also known as a shunter) and stationary boiler,cite web| url=http://www.prrths.com/Hagley/PRR1866%20June%2004.wd.pdf| title=PRR Chronology: 1866| publisher=Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society| month=June | year=2004| format=PDF| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ] the "John Bull" was retired in 1866 and stored in
Bordentown, New Jersey. Toward the end of its life in revenue service, the locomotive worked as a pumpengine and as the power for a sawmill.White, pp 32–34.]
The C&A was soon absorbed into the
United New Jersey Railroad and Canals Company(1869) which itself was merged into the Pennsylvania Railroad(PRR) in 1871. [cite web| url=http://rnetzlof.pennsyrr.com/corphist/URRNJ.html| title=Corporate Genealogy: United New Jersey Railroad| author=Netzlof, Robert T.| month=February 7,| year=2001| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ] The PRR saw the potential publicity to be gained by exhibiting such an old engine, showing it at the 1876 Centennial Expositionin Philadelphia;cite journal| title=American Locomotives and Cars| author=Forney, M. N.| pages=p 177| volume=IV| journal=Scribner's Magazine| issue=2| month=August| year=1888| ] PRR workshop staff then " back-dated" the engine (by replacing some original parts with parts that "looked" old or by removing them entirely). The exhaust stack was replaced with a straight tube of metal and the cab walls and roof were removed. The PRR then exhibited the engine in 1883 at the National Railway Appliance Exhibitionin Chicago, Illinois. In 1885, the Smithsonian Institutionpurchased the "John Bull" from the PRR as the Institution's first large engine purchase.
mithsonian Institution and locomotive restoration
At the exhibition in 1883, the Pennsylvania Railroad ended up resolving two problems at once. In the Smithsonian Institution, the railroad was able to find a home for the historic locomotive as well as a suitable new employer for a young civil engineer named
J. Elfreth Watkins. Watkins had been involved in an accident on the railroad in New Jerseya few years before the exhibition. In the accident, he had lost a leg so he was no longer suited to the physical demands of railroad work (although the railroad did employ him as a clerk for a while after his accident). The PRR employed his engineering experience as an expert curator for the Smithsonian's new Arts and Industries Building which was opened in 1880. [cite web| author=Massa, William R., Jr.| publisher=Smithsonian Institution| year=2004| url=http://siarchives.si.edu/findingaids/FARU7268.htm| title=Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives: Record Unit 7268; J. Elfreth Watkins Collection, 1869, 1881–1903, 1953, 1966 and undated| accessmonthday=August 5| accessyear=2008| ] [cite web| url=http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives/d8523.htm| title=John H. White, Jr. Reference Collection, 1880s-1990| work=Archives Center, National Museum of American History| publisher=Smithsonian Institution| month=December 27,| year=2002| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ] The locomotive's first public exhibition at the Smithsonian occurred on December 22, 1884, where it was displayed in the East Hall of the Arts and Industries building.White, p 39.]
The locomotive remained on display in this location for nearly 80 years, but it was transported for display outside the museum on certain rare occasions. The most significant display in this time occurred in 1893 when the locomotive traveled to Chicago for the
World's Columbian Exposition. [cite book| title=The World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893| author=White, Trumbull; Igleheart, William and Palmer, Bertha Honoré| year=1893| publisher=P.W. Ziegler and Company| pages=p 286| ] The Pennsylvania Railroad, like many other railroads of the time, put on grand displays of their progress; the PRR arranged for the locomotive and a couple of coaches to be delivered to the railroad's Jersey City, New Jersey, workshops where it would undergo a partial restoration to operating condition. The PRR was planning an event worthy of the locomotive's significance to American railroad history—the railroad actually planned to operate the locomotive for the entire distance between New Jersey and Chicago.
The restoration was supervised by the PRR's chief mechanical officer,
Theodore N. Ely. Ely was confident enough in its 50-mile (80.5 km) test run to Perth Amboy, New Jersey(which took two hours and fifteen minutes), that the Governors of all the states that the locomotive was to pass through and the then President of the United States, Grover Cleveland, were invited to ride behind the engine on its first leg toward Chicago. The "John Bull" was to pull a few passenger cars in a train that would carry dignitaries and representatives of the press. The train traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the charge of one locomotive crew. From Philadelphia, local engineers (train drivers) were employed to ride on the locomotive's footplate as pilots to advise the operators for the trip over the local engineers' territories for the rest of the journey to Chicago. Traveling at 25 to 30 mph (40 to 50 km/h), the train departed from the Pennsylvania Railroad's Jersey City station at 10:16am on April 17 [cite news| url=http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9F06E3DC1031E033A2575BC1A9629C94629ED7CF| format=PDF| work=New York Times| date=April 18, 1893| title=John Bull on the Way West| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ] and reached Chicago on April 22. The locomotive operated during the exhibition giving rides to the exhibition's attendees, and then the train left Chicago on December 6 for the return trip to Washington. The locomotive arrived back in Washington on December 13. [White, pp 39–45.]
In 1927 the "John Bull" again traveled outside the museum. The
Baltimore and Ohio Railroadwas celebrating its centenary that year in its Fair of the Iron Horsein Baltimore, Maryland. Since the locomotive's original tender (fuel and water car) had deteriorated beyond repair and was dismantled in 1910, the PRR built a replica of the tender at its Altoona, Pennsylvania, workshops.cite web| url=http://www.rrmuseumpa.org/about/roster/locomotiveroster.pdf| title=Motive Power Roster| publisher=Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania| format=PDF| month=August | year=2007| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ] The locomotive was also refurbished in Altoona for operation during the fair.White, p 45.] This fair was the last steam up for the locomotive until 1980.
(Mostly) static display
After the locomotive returned to the Smithsonian, it remained on static display. The museum in 1930 commissioned the
Altoona Worksto build a second replica of the locomotive's tender for display with the locomotive in the museum. This time, however, the replica tender re-used some of the fittings that the museum had retained when the original tender was dismantled twenty years earlier.
The Smithsonian recognized the locomotive's age in 1931. But, since the museum didn't have the funds to refurbish the locomotive for full operation again, it was decided to run the locomotive in place (with the driving wheels lifted off the rails using jacks) with compressed air. The museum borrowed an 1836 coach from the Pennsylvania Railroad to display on the track behind the newly rebuilt tender, and the locomotive's 100th birthday was officially celebrated on November 12, 1931. The locomotive's semi-operation was broadcast over the CBS radio network with
Stanley Bellnarrating the ceremonies for the radio audience. [White, pp 45–46.]
The PRR again borrowed the locomotive in 1933–1934 for the
Century of Progressexhibition in Chicago. Unlike its earlier jaunt to Chicago, for this trip, the railroad hauled and displayed it as a static exhibit. While this exhibit was proceeding the Altoona Works were busy again building a replica; this time the replica was an operable copy of the locomotive itself. The replica was then operated in 1940 at the New York World's Fair, while the original locomotive and rebuilt tender returned to the Smithsonian.White, p 46.]
The original locomotive was displayed outside the museum one more time in 1939 at the New York World's Fair, but the museum's curators decided that the locomotive was becoming too fragile for repeated outside exhibits. It was then placed in somewhat permanent display back in the East Hall where it remained for the next 25 years. The locomotive was moved to its current home, the
National Museum of American History(then called the National Museum of History and Technology), in 1964.
Operating again after 150 years
The "John Bull" had remained on static display for another 15 years, but the locomotive's significance as one of the oldest locomotives in existence, or its use on the first railroad in New Jersey was not very plainly noted in the display's literature. As 1981 and the locomotive's 150th birthday approached, the Smithsonian started discussions on how best to commemorate the locomotive's age and significance. There was very little question that special publications and exhibits would be prepared, but museum officials were left with the thought that the exhibit could still be so much more than that.White, pp 46–48]
Many superficial inspections were performed on the locomotive in 1980 and it was found to be in relatively sound mechanical condition. There wasn't a significant amount of deterioration noted in these early inspections, and when the wheels were jacked off the rails, as they had been 50 years earlier, the axles were found to be freely operable. One morning in January 1980, before the museum opened to the public, museum officials used compressed air to power the cylinders and move the wheels through the connecting rods for the first time since its last semi-operation. After the compressed air blew some dirt and debris out of the locomotive's exhaust stack, it was soon running smoothly.
The running gear seemed to be in good order, but it was still unknown if the boiler could still handle the pressure of steam and a live fire again. The museum asked the
Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Companyto inspect the locomotive's boiler for operation. The inspections were conducted after hours at the museum (from 6:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.) over three days and included electromagnetic, ultrasonic, and radiographic tests. The tests did reveal a few flaws, but it was projected that the engine could operate at a reduced boiler pressure of 50 psi (340 kPa or 3.5 kgf/cm²); as delivered to the Camden & Amboy, the boiler was rated for 70 psi (480 kPa or 4.9 kgf/cm²). The Smithsonian's staff, after a few further hydrostatic tests, were confident that the locomotive could again operate under its own power. The items that needed repair were repaired and succesfully field-tested in Virginiain 1980. On September 15, 1981, the locomotive operated under steam on a few miles of branch line near the Potomac Riverwithin Washington, D.C.On this exhibition, the locomotive became the oldest operable steam locomotive (and oldest self-propelled vehicle) in the world.
The original "John Bull" is housed and displayed at the
National Museum of American Historyin Washington, D.C. The replica of the "John Bull", built in 1939, is owned and preserved by the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
* June 18, 1831: The "John Bull" is constructed by Stephenson and Company in England.White, p 22.]
* July 14, 1831: The "John Bull" departs
Liverpoolaboard the ship "Allegheny" bound for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
* September 4, 1831: The "John Bull" arrives in Philadelphia.
* September 15, 1831: The "John Bull" makes its first runs in New Jersey under its own power.
* November 12, 1831: Robert Stevens hosts a group of New Jersey politicians on a series of trial runs pulled by the "John Bull".
* 1833: The "John Bull" is one of a few locomotives operating on the newly completed
Camden and Amboy Railroad.
* 1866: The "John Bull" is retired from regular service.
* 1876: The "John Bull" is displayed at the United States
Centennial Expositionin Philadelphia.
* 1883: The Pennsylvania Railroad displays "John Bull" at the
National Railway Appliance Exhibitionin Chicago, Illinois.
* 1884: The Smithsonian Institution acquires the "John Bull" from the Pennsylvania Railroad
* 1893: The "John Bull" operates at the
World's Columbian Expositionin Chicago.
* 1910: The original tender, now deteriorated beyond repair, is dismantled by Smithsonian staff. Usable fittings from the tender are placed in storage.
* 1927: The
Baltimore and Ohio Railroadborrows the "John Bull" to operate at the Fair of the Iron Horsein Baltimore, Maryland.
* 1930: A replica tender is commissioned by the Smithsonian and built by the Pennsylvania Railroad using the fittings previously salvaged from the original tender; the new tender is displayed with the locomotive at the museum.
* November 12, 1931: The Smithsonian celebrates the locomotive's 100th "birthday," using compressed air to operate the stationary engine (stabilized on jacks) within the museum's exhibit hall.
* 1933–1934: The Pennsylvania Railroad borrows the "John Bull" to display it at the
Century of ProgressExhibition in Chicago.
* 1939: The original "John Bull" is displayed in the opening of the
New York World's Fair
* 1940: A replica of the "John Bull", built by engineers at the Pennsylvania Railroad's Juniata Shops in
Altoona, Pennsylvania, is displayed at the New York World's Fair, and the original is returned to the Smithsonian.
* 1980: The "John Bull" is restored to operating condition, and tested in
* September 15, 1981: The "John Bull" operates in
Washington, D.C., on the 150th anniversary of its first use, becoming the oldest operable steam locomotive (and oldest self-propelled vehicle) in the world.
* 1985: The "John Bull" is carried aboard an airplane for an exhibition in
Dallas, Texas, making it the oldest locomotive in the world to travel by air.cite web| url=http://www.smithsonianlegacies.si.edu/objectdescription.cfm?ID=25| title=John Bull locomotive, 1831| work=Legacies| publisher=Smithsonian Institution Press| year=2001| accessmonthday=August 4| accessyear=2008| ]
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