29¢ Ely’s #10
Issue Date: July 28, 1994
City: Chama, NM
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 11 horizontally
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.