JohnBull 2.72

'Stevens' as designed by Robert Stephenson

John Bull, a.k.a. 'Stevens', is a 4-2-0 British-designed steam locomotive built in 1831 by Isaac Dripps. It has a 54" driver diameter, weighs 10 tons, and has a firegrate area of approximately 10.07 square feet.

Early useEdit

It was originally designed by Robert Stephenson & Company as an 0-4-0 Planet type locomotive. It was then shipped on the steamboat 'Allegheny' to the Camden & Amboy Railroad in New Jersey as parts in crates. However, there were no directions for the locomotive's construction, and C&A called upon design engineer Isaac Dripps to assemble the engine. It was christened 'Stevens', after the railroad's president, and given #1. John Stevens was also the designer of the Best Friend of Charleston. It was placed in storage until 1833, however, until the railroad was completed. When Stevens was placed in use, crews who knew of its British origin began calling it "The old John Bull," until the nickname was shortened to 'John Bull' and Stevens was rarely used anymore. In 1836, it became the first engine to run in Harrisburg, PA, along with two coaches.

Rebuilding and later serviceEdit

John Bull was used heavily through the 1860's, and after continued use of the locomotive on rough track and

'John Bull' after the full rebuild.

terrain, derailments became common. It was decided to rebuild the locomotive to have a sturdier wheelbase. Sometime between 1840 and 1860, or perhaps gradually, the locomotive had its connecting rods removed, and received a new 2-truck tender, a wider exhaust stack, and the world's first separate -wheel pilot truck. This changed its designation under the early Whyte System to 2-2-2-0, meaning a locomotive with 2 sets of different diameter pilot wheels,  driving wheels, and no trailing wheels. However, changes in the Whyte System to accommodate other locomotives meant simplifying this to 4-2-0. The engine performed much better with far fewer derailments after the rebuild. It was still in use well into the 1860's, during which it had been demoted to yard switcher.


John Bull's historical significance was recognized by the C&A's successor, the Pennsylvania Railroad, almost

The original John Bull, after a few modifications, operating on its 150th anniversary.

immediately after its acquirement. In 1883, the PRR went to the Smithsonian to find a place to keep the locomotive when not running it. There, they met J. Watkins, who had worked for the C&A until an accident which cost him his leg. The railroad employed him as a caretaker to the locomotive and let the Smithsonian display it. The locomotive's first public exhibition at the Smithsonian occurred on December 22, 1884, where it was displayed in the East Hall of the Arts and Industries building. The PRR displayed John at several public expositions, including the 1893 Colombian World's Fair in Chicago and 1896 Centennial Celebration. In 1910, the locomotive's tender had deteriorated beyond repair and was dismantled. However, in 1927, the PRR wanted to operate the engine again at the B&O's "Fair of the Iron Horse," so John was sent to Altoona, PA, to have a new tender built and be restored to operational status itself.  After this, the locomotive was sent back to the Smithsonian, were it would be on static display until 1980. During that time, in 1930, the PRR ordered a replica of the John Bull built by its Altoona Works after the Smithsonian told the PRR of their wish to keep John Bull under more cautious preservation. The replica would run multiple excursions in this time. Finally, in 1981, the locomotive's 150th "birthday" was to be celebrated by another restoration to operating condition. The Smithsonian ran the locomotive on a branch line near the Potomac River within Washington, D.C. It was then that John Bull became the oldest operational locomotive in the world. 


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