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Loco: 1890

Loco: 1890

Circa 1890. "Mexican Central Railway train at station." Dry plate glass negative by William Henry Jackson. Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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Short trains, well-known from movies

A lot of cheap western movies show very short trains, probably because they couldn't afford to restore a lot of rolling stock ..... This reminds of such movies.

How did they make this trip pay?

One could ask the same thing about a private 747.

It's not Alec or Billy or Stephen, but...

Careful squinting at the numberplate on the smokebox door reveals it's a Baldwin.

Darkoom Special

Very likely this is a photographer's special, with the second coach fitted up to act as a rolling darkroom. WH Jackson worked on a contract basis for a lot of western railroads - the Denver Public Library has a huge collection of the pictures he took for the D&RG, DSP&P and Colorado Midland Railroads, among others - and quite a few of them include a two car (in some cases, a two caboose) train fitted up for his use, and posed among various scenic landmarks.

Might Be a Baldwin

Although not 100%, the amount of wording on both the builder's plate (the raised round item on the smokebox, just above the white flag and cylinder on our left), and the front number plate, lead me to believe this was a Baldwin.

Cooke also used round plates, but with much simpler lettering, and in various sizes,

It's not a Cooke engine

I think it's a Mason. It is a dead ringer with identical cab, smoke box, steam and sand domes. and everything matches except for the pilot and location of the bell

Probably a Baldwin

I'm not 100% sure but looking at the round builder's plate, and trying to decipher the lettering around the edge of the numberplate on the front, I think this was built by Baldwin.

A ten-wheeler would generally be considered a huge engine for such a tiny train, but Mexico is in general pretty mountainous. Also, sometimes an outsized engine would be assigned to a train in order to avoid dispatching it as a light engine to a new location. I seem to recall seeing an example in one of by books, and back when I worked by the tracks in Silver Spring I saw a freight with eight diesels pushing at the back-- definite overkill considering that the run from Brunswick is pretty much downhill all the way.

Photo Train

The white flags denote a special train and I would think this train was assigned to carry Mr. Jackson and his gear and stop where he saw fit to photograph. Other railroads accommodated Jackson in this way.

Re: Free Hot Water

I thought they were taking off steam products, which would be distilled, rather than boiler water.

Re Who Made

I can't read them, but the circular builder's plate on the side of the smokebox and the circular number plate look very Baldwin.

Also note the white flags on the pilot beam, signifying that this train is "running extra" -- not in the schedule.

Short Train

We tend to expect long multi-car passenger trains but in many cases the real work was done on branch lines with a set-up that looked pretty much like this in the days before cars and buses became the standard. You really had two ways of getting to your destination if it was greater than walking distance; a local (unnamed) passenger train or a horse/horse and wagon, and after a certain distance the horse and wagon stopped making sense. This kind of train was the intercity bus of its day.

Hot water

Unless the boiler pressure is very low, drawing off hot water this way would result in instant steam. The water in a locomotive boiler is usually over 270 degrees so it will instantly turn to steam if released to atmospheric pressure. Possibly the locomotive had been standing and pressure dropped or else they were just getting it fired up when the photo was made. I do see that the Senora with the olla on her shoulders seems to have a bit of insulation in the form of a serape under the jar and against her head.

Warm water

The two ladies are collecting water overflow from the steam injector. That is the steam appliance they are standing next to.

Overflow water, which is warmed by this process is not as hot as water straight from the boiler.

Dave J.

The most likely manufacturer

The most likely manufacturer of the locomotive is the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Penn. The circular builder's plate on the side of the smokebox was a trademark of theirs. Also, they often cast "The Baldwin Locomotive Works Philadelphia, U.S.A." into the margin around the edge of the locomotive number plate during this time period. An example is here:

This short train, with the small coach and large express car was probably the daily "milk and mail" or whatever the Mexican equivalent was. These short trains made every stop on nearly every mile of railway line in North America, carrying merchandise packages, mail, and a few passengers to all the small towns. Chances are, the contents of the express car are more valuable than the tickets for the coach.

Is it a Cooke?

This loco looks rather similar to this Cooke:

This one is described as being owned by Compania Muebles y Mudazas. 2249 was built by Cooke in February 1893, #2249, as Lehigh & Hudson River 19. It was sold as MyM 2249 and resold as Nacional de Mexico 2249, Class F-23a. In 1931 it was renumbered 807, Class F-27, and retired in July 1934.

Cooke was based in Paterson, New Jersey.

Pre-revolutionary transportation

These photos are very interesting to me because they show snapshots of life in Mexico before the civil war (or Revolution, as they like to call it here). Undeniable the influence of American railroads in the design of that loco.

Do we know where this was taken?

Who made this baby?

Can anyone enlarge this picture to reveal the wording on that plate on the locomotive? And what on earth are those two ladies doing next to that driver wheel? I wonder if they are looking for something.

Free Hot Water

It looks like the women are tapping off some hot water from the boiler. I've seen this done in India. I'd leave it to cool down a bit before heaving it onto my shoulder.

Where's the rest of the train?

That is an astonishingly short train: A locomotive, a tender, a baggage car, and then either a caboose or a small passenger car. How did they make this trip pay, unless there is something very special being carried as freight?

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