Motive Power of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. January, 1907

From "Development of the Locomotive."
By Angus Sinclair.

When Hannibal undertook to cross the Alps with a great army, he entered upon an achievement in travel of unparalleled difficulty. If the great Carthaginian general had advisers they doubtless did their best to deter their chief from his purpose, and the lower elements of the army, who had not reached the dignity of being advisers, no doubt sneered at and criticised the enterprise, which they felt certain would end in disaster. Such is the reception given to all uncommon projects.

Early in the year 1852 a group of enterprising men entered upon the work of constructing a railroad through the Alps of America, from Mauch Chunk to Easton, Pa., an undertaking much more formidable than the work of transporting 100,000 soldiers over the Italian Alps. The railroad project was embarked in for the purpose of gathering some of the natural riches of the Lehigh Valley, but the ambition of the promoters received scant sympathy and small financial support. Building railroads through mountain obstacles had not yet become popular. A recent writer recalling the discouragement that depressed this enterprise, says:

"The early days of the Lehigh Valley Railroad were days of tribulation. There was lack of encouragement and lack of financial help. Skepticism of the feasibility of the project ruled in Lehigh Valley communities, and both skepticism and ridicule were meted out to its projectors by outside critics. Expressions of good will and wishes for success were not entirely absent, but the helping hand was withheld."

The original preliminary survey of the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad, under which name the Lehigh Valley Railroad was incorporated in 1846, was made by Roswell B. Mason for a number of citizens living in New Jersey. There was a vague idea among them that the railroad would be used to convey coal and merchandise to the four rivers named in the charter for transport to the ocean, thence to the world of commerce. When, however, the incorporators came to investigate the character of the country to be traversed by their railroad, they lost courage, and the scheme was abandoned and lay dormant for several years.

In 1852 the charter was secured by Asa Packer, who had an unwavering faith in the resources of the Lehigh Valley, with the inflexible determination to utilize them. His foresight. and faith in the enterprise in the face of difficulties that would have appalled most men, were backed by, splendid courage and, a tireless energy, which won victory for him and the faithful band of brave spirits who co-operated with him. The name of the road was changed by act of legislature in 1853 to the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

Asa Packer and the Chief Engineer Robert H. Sayre were the active powers of the road. Upon their shoulders rested the responsibility and work. The two represented the functions of all the departments that make up a railway organization of to-day; the one, the executive and financing, departments, the other, the construction and operating departments. The little, as well as the big things, demanded their personal attention, exacting of them eternal vigilance.

New England is proud to claim the honor of having had within its borders the first railroad in America to carry wheeled vehicles. Pennsylvania comes next with its famous gravity railroad, opened in 1827, from the Lehigh River to Mount Pisgah, a peak 1,500 feet above sea level, in the heart of a rich anthracite region. This inclined plane railroad was built for the transportation of coal to the river. It is now operated as a scenic railroad and draws multitudes of visitors every summer.

When we come to regard its oldest member as an integral part of a consolidated railroad system we have to credit the short, tortuous, inclined plane of Mauch Chunk as being the most ancient part of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

Here is a view of the Mt. Jefferson Plane.

Another possession of ancient origin was the Beaver Meadow Railroad, which was projected in 1830 and put in operation in 1836. That was a famous little railroad in its day. Its purpose was to transport anthracite coal from the mines rear Beaver Meadow in the Mauch Chunk region for shipment on the Lehigh Canal. Its location was through a remarkably rugged mountain district, where it wound by steep hillsides, over torrential streams, through swamps and forests by a route that involved the greatest difficulties of construction then encountered in railroad building. Although there was no direct connection between the undertakings the construction of the Beaver Meadow Railroad was a fitting introduction to the building of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

The Beaver Meadow Railroad was as famous for different locomotives it possessed as was the Lehigh Valley for the novel forms its people produced in developing locomotives adapted to hauling heavy loads over steep grades.

The first locomotive that belonged to the Beaver Meadow Railroad was called, the Samuel D. Ingham, after president of the company, and was notable among the railroad motive power of that time. It was built by Garrett & Eastwick, of Philadelphia, was of the eight-wheel type, had a peculiar valve motion designed by Andrew M. Eastwick, reversing being done by a block sliding on the valve seats, and it was the first locomotive in Pennsylvania to be provided with a cab for sheltering the engine crew.

The first section of the Lehigh Valley Railroad was no sooner opened than the company was flooded with business far beyond the most sanguine expectations of the promoters. At the head of the company were men of a pushing, enterprising character, who perceived the golden opportunities that their inroad into virgin territory had brought forth and they proceeded to make the best of them. A policy of extension and consolidation was adopted, and the management proceeded gradually to the absorbing of fragmentary roads calculated to be worked up into a great trunk line.

In 1864 the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company absorbed the Beaver Meadow Railroad, an important move, for it took away a competitor and seemed a valuable feeder from the richest anthracite regions. A few months later a consolidation was effected with the Penn Haven and White Haven Railroad. In 1866 another consolidation was effected, and the Lehigh and Mahonoy Railroad became part of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. This consolidation gave the name to the type of eight-wheel connected and leading pony truck locomotive designed by Alexander Mitchell and built that year. At the same time was purchased the North Branch Canal, extending from Wilkes-Barre to New York State line, a distance of 105 miles, with the privilege of laying a track the whole distance. Other consolidations and absorptions followed, and now, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company operates about 1,400 miles of track, with about 800 locomotives and 40,000 cars.

The principal freight handled by the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company has always been coal and other minerals. The mechanical officials from the first displayed a leaning toward heavy motive power that would handle economically heavy freight over the steep grades. Before discussing particulars of their progress in this line, I wish to allude to a peculiar type of mine locomotives used on some of the branches. Fig. 1 illustrates one of these Grice and Long locomotives, which was at work at Packer No. 4 Colliery as late as 1901.

This was a four-wheeled locomotive, with built up frame. The boiler, which is of the internally fired, return tubular type, is placed over the front pair of wheels. The cylinders, which are placed nearly vertical over rear axle, are in the rear of the boiler. The connecting rods drive a cranked shaft on which a gear is placed. This gear in turn drives a pinion on rear axle. The wheels are inside the frame, and axles are cranked for parallel rods. Only the rear pair of wheels are equipped with springs. Shifting or so-called Stephenson link motion was used, and the lost motion in parallel rods was taken up on one end by taper key, on the other by a set bolt lock nut.

In spite of very persistent search, I have been unable to find out who designed these extraordinary locomotives, but it certainly was a man with some engineering ideas, the leanings being towards marine practice. They were evidently patterned somewhat after the Baltimore and Ohio Grasshopper engines, being made so short and compact that they would go round any curve, but the boiler was of a decidedly better form and the engine was likely to do its work on less steam, while it was very convenient for repairing.

Among curious locomotives possessed by the Lehigh Valley were two called the "Defiance" and the "Champion," built by the Niles Locomotive Works of Cincinnati, and purchased by the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company in 1857. They were designed for service on an inclined plane and had cog gearing for working on a rack rail. There were four cylinders, two inside and two outside, had four pairs of driving wheels connected outside, but no truck. They were equipped with the Walschaerts valve motion, which was used all the time the engines were kept in service, probably twenty years. The engines were bought in Cincinnati at Sheriff's sale, and were taken by river and canal to Penn Haven, thence to Weatherly by rail.

This information came to me from Alexander Mitchell, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., who was long an official of the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and put a permanent imprint upon the motive power of the world.

The first passenger engines belonging to the Lehigh Valley from 1855-1859 were wood burners; all freight engines burned coal. Wood burning locomotives were in use on that system as late as 1869, a curious practice to exist on a strictly coal carrying railroad.

In 1856 three engines with Phlegers patent boilers and Norris cut-off valve motion were purchased of Norris & Son, of Philadelphia. As an evidence of the satisfactory performance of these engines a record of tonnage hauled is taken from the president's report for the year ending January, 1858: "During the six months from April to September, inclusive, the engine 'Catasauqua' ran 11,236 miles and hauled 11,231 loaded and 11,246 empty cars of 5 tons each. In the month of July the engine 'Lehigh' made 26 round trips, with an average load of 535 tons of coal per day." It is interesting to compare the performance of these engines with the present rating of freight engines over this same division.

The "Catasauqua" and the "Lehigh" were six-wheel connected drivers with a four-wheel leading truck, and weight about 46,000 lbs.

In 1856 the E. A. Packer was purchased from Wm. Mason, of Taunton, Mass., and that builder continued to supply locomotives to the road as long as he lived. This engine was used in passenger service and was equipped with the Boardman boiler. The peculiar construction of the Boardman boiler required the use of eccentrics on a return crank attached to the main pin. This engine was also equipped with a "Low Moor Iron" firebox, which was in constant use for eleven years without renewal. This was considered at that time the best obtainable material for fireboxes.

From 1855-66 the majority of the engines in use were either from Norris or Mason. There were some Baldwins, and a very few Brandt engines, built at Lancaster, Pa. James A. Norris was proprietor of the Lancaster Locomotive Works and John Brandt superintendent.

The Mason engines were favorites among the enginemen. They had the main wheel forward, which made them flexible on curves and free from nosing. They were very good steamers and powerful engines for their weight, the draw bar between engine and tender being offset so that in starting a heavy train part of the weight of the tender was thrown on the drivers.

The Norris engines, and also the Brandt engines, were equipped with the Hinkley cut-off, which had to be thrown in and out while the engine was in motion.

All throughout the history of the Lehigh Valley Railroad it may be noticed that the men in charge of the rolling stock were always ready to adopt improvements and this company was among the first to reap the saving from a variety of inventions whose purpose was to reduce the cost of fuel and repairs, to prevent accidents, and to increase the comfort of train men.

By the time that the year 1865 opened the company possessed a rather heterogeneous supply of locomotives, the aim evidently being to try all sorts to find out which kind produced the best results. R. Norris, Baldwin and Mason had been the principal builders, but there were engines from Brandt, of Lancaster, Pa.; Trenton Locomotive Works; Niles Locomotive Works, Cincinnati, Ohio; New Jersey Locomotive Works, Paterson, N. J.; Danforth & Cooke, Paterson, N. J.; A. Pardee & Co., and J. A. Norris.

About this time the management put upon the master mechanics the responsibility of producing locomotives especially adapted for the peculiarities of the system. The first result of this movement was the designing of the consolidation form of engine (Fig 2) by Alexander Mitchell, master mechanic of the Mahanoy Division. That was in 1866. The engine was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and was a striking success from the first. Within a very few years it became one of the most popular locomotives all over the world.

In 1867 the Lehigh Valley Railroad began the practice of building their own locomotives as far as their shop facilities would permit. Engines were built at Delano, Weatherly, Wilkesbarre, Sayre, and at the So. Easton shop.

This practice adopted by the company to build their own engines as far as possible furnished abundant opportunity to develop individual ability, a practice that had decided disadvantages. Every division master mechanic became a law unto himself concerning what form of locomotive he should build. The theory was that each master mechanic was the best judge of the kind of engine best adopted for the physical characteristics of that part of the line where he had charge.

The result was great rivalry among the different master mechanics with train men active partisans ready to abuse or praise the engines, and frequently to put at a disadvantage those they disliked. There were Hoffecker engines, Campbell engines, Michell engines, Clark engines, and Kinsey engines, all differing from each other, the motive of difference sometimes being merely dread of imitation.

An undeniable result of the system of making every master mechanic independent of the others was the accumulation of an assortment of patterns such as no other railroad company ever possessed.

There was quite a variety of odd locomotives built by the Lehigh Valley people, some of them marking progress, others marking things and practices that ought to be avoided.

Prominent among those oddities were certain locomotives built by David Clark, with a link motion and independent cut-off valve. This gear had six eccentrics, straps and rods, four rock shafts, two reverse levers and rods, two additional valves, valve seats, valve stems and stuffing boxes. The motion is illustrated in Fig. 3. The engines produced what were probably the finest indicator diagrams ever made by a locomotive, but it did not effect any saving of fuel over a common link motion engine of the same class.

In 1871 the company purchased. Mason's "Janus" (Fig. 4), a double-headed engine of the Fairlie type. It did good work as a pusher, and was popular with the engineers, but it never was duplicated.

Alexander Mitchell tried to advance on the consolidation with two engines called the "Ant" and the "Bee"
(Fig. 5), which had five pairs of drivers connected and a pony truck in front. The engines gave some trouble on curves, so the back pair of drivers were taken out and a pair of small carrying wheels substituted, making the first of the 2-8-2 or Mikado type. Two engines were built by the Norris Locomotive Works, Lancaster, Pa., in 1867. Quite a number of this kind of engine is now used in mountain service.

Master Mechanic Philip Hoffecker attempted to improve on Mitchell's 2-10-0 engines by applying a four-wheel truck with all the wheels in front of the cylinders. Some of that class of engines are still in service, but they display no superiority over the consolidation engine.

Rogers people built some Moguls with a four-wheel truck in front of the cylinders, but they never achieved popularity. Hoffecker also built 4-8-0 engines afterwards, known as twelve-wheelers (Fig. 6).

In the search for a passenger locomotive which could make time over mountain grades, and also haul a heavy train, the famous "Duplex" No. 444, was developed. This engine was built at Wilkesbarre in 1886. It was the first engine equipped with the Strong twin fireboxes for burning anthracite coal. The boiler was 33 ft. long, and was composed of an outer shell in combination with a firebox of two Fox corrugated flues side by side, joining into a combustion chamber. Although the Fox corrugated flue was found very frequently in marine practice, and had been to a limited extent adapted to locomotives in Germany. The total length of firebox and combustion chamber was 16 ft. 4½ inches. The smallest diameter of flue was 38¼ inches. The length of firebox was 8 ft. 9 ins.

The engine was a failure and was a good illustration of what an amateur will do when he undertakes to design a locomotive.

Another engine with a modification in the link motion was built at Hazleton in 1886. This was an 8-wheel engine, the "Audenried," later changed to "John Campbell," intended for passenger service, was a sister engine to that with the independent cut-off built by David Clark, and had his cut-off valve placed above the slide valve. By means of this valve the cut-off could be varied. When it was not in use, the cut-off valve traveled the same path as the main slide valve. This cut-off valve rested on top of the main valve, which had steam passages through it, and was operated by an extra eccentric placed on each side of the engine. The motion was transferred to the valve through the medium of a radius bar and slide block. This slide block on radius bar was connected to a lever in the cab by means of a lift shaft and reach rod. Here by means of a notched quadrant, the point of cut-off could be changed at will.

The engine, like Clark's, was celebrated for the beautiful indicator diagrams it produced, but it did not pull any more cars or burn less fuel than the other engines, so the independent cut-off with its extra attachments was allowed to fall into innocuous desuetude.

Since that time the Lehigh Valley Railroad people have been contented to follow the beaten path in locomotive designing. No better power is to be found in the country, and the company may of late years apply to itself the aphorism "happy is the country that has no history."

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