The Steam Locomotive 606
Steam engines are typically defined by their wheel arrangement. .This example has two pilot wheels, eight driving wheels, and no trailing wheels. Thus, it is designated a 2-8-0 steam locomotive. Some locomotives also have associated names given to them by their manufacturers, their designers, or the men that operated them.
This type of locomotive is known as a Consolidation by most railroad authors. Similar discrete names have been associated with other locomotives with different wheel arrangements. The first units were delivered to the Lehigh Valley railroad in 1866 for operation in the mountain terrain of Pennsylvania. They were built by Baldwin, and had been designed by the chief mechanic of the Lehigh & Mahanoy railroad.
The 2-8-0 was a stable riding engine much more so than the early 0-8-0s used in road service; this made it capable of greater speeds.
The engine proved itself on the Lehigh Valley road and the railroad ordered fourteen copies. This locomotive acquired the name “Consolidation” as a result of the merger (or consolidation) of the Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh & Mahanoy railroads. The locomotives delivery schedule coincided with the merger.
The locomotive’s basic design continued into the 1920s and continued to evolve with advances in locomotive technology of the day. It was the diesel locomotive that ultimately vanquished the 2-8-0 from the rails. They remained active on many roads until the end of steam. They continued to be manufactured up into the 1940s with modified designs/upgrades. For years, their duties were heavy freight, as they aged and newer designs came about, they ended up as switchers or for short line use.
Just after the turn of the twentieth century, three locomotive builders surged to the top of the manufacturing heap. They were Baldwin, American Locomotive, and Lima Locomotive Works. However over the succeeding years several railroads began to manufacture a greater number of their own locomotives. The Norfolk Western was one of those railroads. They manufactured many 2-8-0s in their own shops in Roanoke, Virginia.
During and after WW II, to support the logistics needs of the military in Europe, the United States Army bought many Steam Locomotives and shipped them overseas. Many of these locomotives were operated on the European railroads in France, the Low Countries and in Germany, by U.S. Military enlisted men. This particular locomotive was to have been a training unit for troops at Fort Eustis, Virginia.
The Diesel Locomotive
The Diesel locomotive here at the museum is a General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD) GP-7, 4 axel diesel road switcher. These units were built from 1949 to 1954. ALCO, Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton, and others were building road switchers of their own during this time. EMD needed a general-purpose locomotive that could do yard switching, freight hauling, and easily go in both directions. The GP series (or “Geep” as it was nicknamed) was the answer. An EMD 567B sixteen cylinder engine provided the diesel power. 2724 units of the GP-7 engine were produced.
The caboose provided shelter at the rear of the train for members of the train’s crew specifically for the brakemen and the conductor of the train. Due to advancing technology in equipment and improved operations resulting in the reduction of several crew member positions, the caboose has been replaced by an electronic End-of-Train-Device, or EOTD.
The first written evidence of the use of the caboose was recorded in about 1859. The first cabooses were nothing more than a regular flat car with a small cabin erected upon them usually in the middle of the car, or a modified box car. The caboose evolved over time to suit specific needs by individual railroads. However the caboose here at the Crewe Railroad Museum is an example of the most consistent style used by most roads.
The addition of the “cupola” was attributed to a freight conductor in 1868. During the course of his work he was asked to give up his regular caboose and use a modified box car during one train trip. The box car had a hole in the roof whereby the enterprising conductor proceeded to construct a set of boxes to stand on and thereby gain a clear view of the roofs of all of the cars on the train. Seeing that this was helpful for many reasons including monitoring the safety of the brakeman, he decided to advocate that all of the cabooses on his road be modified with an opening in the roof with fixed windows to make it weather proof. Several different designs of the “cupola” evolved over time for the support of different railroad’s operation, but this one seemed to become the default standard over time.
The actual name” Caboose” appears to have descended from a Middle Dutch term. Kabhuis. The word referred to a small compartment in the middle of a sailing ships main deck where meals were prepared. The rationale for this was to keep cook fires above the lower decks as to guard against accidental fires aboard ship. The usage of the term seems to have started in about 1847 on railroads. It is assumed that the simple shed on a flatcar resembled the cooking compartment on the ships. There was also a similar word in German “Kabhuse” and another similar word in French, “Camboose” which had the same meaning. It is assumed that the contemporary term “caboose” evolved from one or all of these words.
The Passenger Coach
Our most recently acquired attraction at the museum is the bright and shiny passenger coach.
This coach started life as Pullman built coach in 1941. From Norfolk & Western history we know that N&W built a new class of coach starting in 1937 and ending in 1948. Again in 1949, until the end of passenger operations on the N&W, an additional new class of coach was added.
Right after World War II, the N&W decided to up-grade their passenger service as a post war renaissance of the passenger train was gaining ground. Railroads all over the country were initiating new and better passenger service as a result of the removal of all war related regulations. Norfolk and Western was going to participate.
Press releases defined a five coach train wherein each coach was newly decorated, air conditioned, and included comfortable reclining and revolving seats. Along with the coaches, a tavern–lounge, and tastefully decorated diner car, were added.
There was even a contest to pick a name for the train. A retired section foreman, Mr. Leonard A. Scott won the contest with the name: Powhatan Arrow. He also rode the maiden run of the new train.
Rather than going through the time consuming process of ordering and waiting delivery from a commercial car builder N&W did what it did best, it built its own train.
They started by rebuilding some of their newest coaches (1941) Pullman built PM class coaches numbered 1720 – 1734. These cars are 85ft in length and were completed in 1946. Even the upholstery was done in the N&W shops. Our coach is number 1723. These cars appear more like the new cars of 1949, than the older class from 1937.
By the way, the tavern-lounge car, was somewhat misleading. The old Dominion state of Virginia was still a dry state and any thing stronger than beer could not be served. But these cars of this train had added gold pinstripes and the words “Powhatan” Arrow on their sides.
Of course during this time frame, passenger service on all railroads continued to decline in favor or automobiles and airplanes. N&W decided to make one final effort to increase its passenger business.
In 1949 it bought new coaches, new diners, and two rounded end tavern-lounge-observation cars. The two tavern-lounge cars were to be used exclusively for the Powhatan Arrow. Unfortunately the rebuilt cars from 1946, of which our car is one, were relegated to service on the Cavalier, Pocahontas, and elsewhere. Its life on the Arrow may have been for only three years, but it was one of the first cars in the famous train.
The Box Car and the Hopper Car
The Boxcar is a railroad car that is enclosed and generally used to carry general freight. Boxcars have side doors of varying size and operation and some include end doors and adjustable bulkheads to load very large items.
We have two types of Box cars here at the Museum. The green one is the more typical type while the brown one is larger and has the double doors. This bigger unit used to be the larger display area for smaller artifacts until the new building was built. It is planned to house shop repair items etc. in additional exhibits.
Prior to World War II, the box car was the most predominate car in a freight train. It was covered, lockable and could carry a number of different types of loads. Loading these cars by hand was very time consuming until forklifts came along to help out.
In recent years, the “Box Car” has morphed into a general box that can be loaded by the customer at their facility, locked and then transported by truck, train, or ship. The loads are totally secure from shipper to consumer. These new “Box Cars” are now called ISO containers and their size and shapes are defined by the International Standards Organization. (ISO). The whole transportation ndustry has signed up to be compatible with these standard “Boxes”.
Though the ISO containers have risen very fast in their popularity, the old fashioned Box Car will surely still be around for some years to come.
The Hopper car
The hopper car is a type of railroad freight car used to transport loose bulk commodities such as coal, ore, grain, and the like. This type of car is distinguished from a gondola car in that it has opening doors on the underside or on the sides to discharge its cargo. The development of the hopper car went along with the development of automated handling and unloading facilities. There are two main types of hopper cars: open and covered.
Covered hoppers are used for bulk cargo that must be protected from the elements, (chiefly rain) such as grain, sugar, and fertilizer. Open cars are used for commodities such as coal, which can get wet and dry out with out undue harm.
Recently in North America, the open hopper car has been in a terminal decline due to the advent of the rotary car dumper (which simply inverts the car to unload it, and has become the preferred unloading technology. A rotary dumper permits the use of simpler and more compact gondolas instead of hoppers. Covered hoppers are still in widespread use.
Here at the museum we have one example of an open hopper car.
Track inspection Vehicles
Here at the Museum we have several different types of track inspection vehicles. These types of units were used, and some are still used, by the “Maintenance-of-Way” railway men to ensure the safety and security of the rails, ties, and connections of the whole railroad track network.
In the main room of the Museum on the left side of the station master’s desk, rests what looks to be a two wheeled vehicle but is in fact a three wheeled vehicle that was built to inspect railroad tracks and bridges. This unit was built by the Sheffield Velocipede Company near Three Rivers Michigan. The manufacture of this vehicle led to the growth of a whole track inspection industry.
Starting out by making units like the one here in the Museum, the vehicle evolved into a four-wheeled unit propelled by two men pumping up and down on an eccentric handle. The units further evolved into four wheel units with small gasoline engines capable of up to 30 miles per hour.
Outside on the grounds we have examples of other track inspection vehicles but the red unit inside the museum has a history that starts it all.
George Sheffield lived on a farm near Three Rivers Michigan. His farm was very near to the Michigan Central Railroad. Every morning and every evening George would walk the track seven miles to and from his work in town.
George conceived an idea of building a small car which could propel him over the railroad tracks. In the winter of 1877 he built a small three wheeler like the one here in the museum, for this very purpose. After some experimentation he developed a model which was sold for many years.
The homemade vehicle produced had no right to use the rail tracks, so he made his journeys in darkness. One night he was heading home and discovered a broken rail. By procuring a lantern and flagging down a train he prevented a certain disaster. However George’s little vehicle was now made manifest to all. In recognition of his valorous act, the company permitted him to run his car between his farm and Three Rivers. Shortly after, a railway company representative called on Mr. Sheffield asking him to build the velocipede for their own use. The rest is history.
Outside to the right of the building resides a couple of steel wheeled wagons painted red and green. These wagons and many wagons like these were permanent fixtures around the Railroad stations of the past. They were used by the employees of the station to transport baggage and light freight from the baggage car into the station for distribution to passengers, or to store the light freight in the freight areas of the station. A small station, like the one here at Crewe may have had three or four of these at any one time. Larger stations like the one in Richmond would literally have tens of these to support the loading and unloading of passenger luggage and light freight.