1994 29¢ Locomotives
Issue Date: July 28, 1994
City: Chama, NM
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 11 horizontally
The story of the railroads goes hand in hand with the great economic growth of the early United States. Each of the five locomotives in this series was made in America, and each is representative of a decade during the last 50 years of the 19th century - regarded as the golden age of American railroading.
Railroads played a major role during the Civil War, transporting troops to battlefields and keeping them supplied. Although both sides used railroads, the South was at a distinct disadvantage because it had less track and far fewer locomotives.
Designed by William Hudson, and built in 1855 for Western and Atlantic Railroad, the Confederate locomotive General became famous during the Civil War when it was highjacked by a group of Union soldiers. Under the command of Captain Andrews, Union troops captured the train at Big Shanty, Georgia on April 12, 1862 while the passengers and crew were having breakfast in the depot’s eating house.
Their intention was to disrupt communications behind enemy lines by cutting telegraph wires and destroying the rails behind them. The conductor of the train chased the stolen locomotive, first on a handcart and then with a small, private engine called the Yonah. Eventually he took over another full-size locomotive, the Texas. After an 87-mile chase that lasted nearly eight hours, the General ran out of fuel, and Andrews and his men were captured. Immortalized in several films, the General survived and is on display in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The Civil War had just begun when Theodore Judah approached the United States government with his dream of building a railroad that would extend from coast to coast. Eager to link the Western states to the Union, Congress agreed to his plan and in 1862 passed the Pacific Railroad Act, authorizing the building of a transcontinental railroad. Two companies were charted to do the job.
In 1863 the Union Pacific Railroad began laying tracks westward from Omaha, Nebraska, while the Central Pacific laid tracks eastward from Sacramento, California. On May 10, 1869, the two railroads met at Promontory, Utah, becoming the world’s first transcontinental railroad. In a jubilant celebration, officials from both railroads drove ceremonial golden spikes to hold down the last rail - the 2,000 mile-long line spanning the West had at long last been completed.
Designed by Walter McQueen, the Jupiter found its way into history books quite by accident. Operating for a mere six weeks, it was called into service when the locomotive scheduled to be on hand for the driving of the golden spike struck a log lying next to the track and was disabled. Pressed into action, the Jupiter arrived at Promontory on May 7th.
Public railroads began operating in England during the early 1800s when steam engines were first used to haul wagons loaded with cargo and coaches carrying passengers. The idea soon spread through Europe and eventually to the United States.
In 1830, the famous race between the American-built locomotive Tom Thumb and a horse convinced Baltimore and Ohio Railroad officials to use steam engines rather than horses to pull their trains. The following year, the Best Friend of Charleston became the first locomotive to be used commercially in the U.S., when it began making regular runs between Charleston and Hamburg, South Carolina.
From that point on, the number of railroads expanded rapidly. Originally most lines only ran short distances, but competition for trade encouraged the railroads to go greater distances. By the 1850s several railroads connected the Great Lakes region with the East Coast, and by 1869 the first transcontinental railroad had been completed.
The No. 242 was built in 1874 for the Western Railroad of Massachusetts by Wilson Eddy, whose locomotives’ smooth-running precision earned them the title of “Eddy’s Clocks.”
Ely’s No. 10
By the late 1830s railroads had revolutionized American life. Not only did they provide a fast and inexpensive form of travel, but they were also capable of carrying large loads and were virtually unaffected by weather. More than a mere form of transportation however, railroads played a key role in the industrial and agricultural development of the United States.
In 1850, eager to attract settlers to undeveloped regions of the Midwest and South, the U.S. government began granting federal land and millions of dollars in loans for the development of railroads. By the end of the 19th century, more than 200,000 miles of track had been laid. Although electric locomotives were introduced in the late 1800s, steam engines continued to carry nearly all of the nation’s freight and long-distance passengers. After World War II most railroads began switching to diesel engines. Faced by severe competition from automobiles and airplanes, the golden age of railroads had ended by 1950.
A remarkably advanced design at the time of its introduction, Ely’s No. 10 became the model on which later locomotives were based. Designed and built by Theodore Ely in 1881, it was among the fastest express locomotives in this country during the 1800s.
Built in 1893 for the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad, William Buchanan’s No. 999 was the first engine in the world to exceed 100 miles per hour. Hauling the Empire State Express at 112 mph from Batavia, New York to Buffalo, the No. 999 set not only a world record for steam locomotives, but for any kind of transportation at that time.
During the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the Empire State Express ran between New York and Chicago, completing the 960-mile journey in just under 20 hours - an unprecedented time for any journey of similar length. Of the 62 locomotives shown at the exposition, the No. 999 was by far the most popular. The combination of speed and luxury resulted in one of the most famous trains in the world, and after the exposition it continued to run year-round, making daily trips from Chicago to New York.
So popular was the Empire State Express, it even appeared on the 1901 2¢ Pan-American stamp. Wanting to show the superiority of American technology, postal officials decided this well-known train was the ideal subject for the 2¢ stamp that featured a “Fast Express.” Today the No. 999 stands on display at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.