The first steam locomotive on track in the United States now holds a place of honor in a museum.
It was brought from Stourbridge, England, to the U.S. in 1829 to enable the transfer of coal from the mines of northeastern Pennsylvania to the canals of New York. A painting on its front was the inspiration for the nickname. Zimmerman’s breezy narrative traces its first American run, which the locals both ridiculed and feared. He goes on to describe the mechanics of its operation on gravity rail lines and its eventual journey to world’s fairs in Chicago and New York and then to the Smithsonian Institution. (The locomotive actually weighed too much for the tracks and was in use only for a very short period.) It is now on permanent loan to the Wayne County Historical Society in Pennsylvania. Railroad fans will enjoy the detailed descriptions of early locomotion mechanics, rail construction and efforts to save the locomotive. Walker’s full-page oil paintings present a pleasant picture of early-19th-century life and rail operations.
The title will have limited appeal to general audiences who would be better served by a more inclusive book, but train enthusiasts will welcome another entry that fuels their railroading enthusiasm. (additional information, sources) (Informational picture book. 6-10)