tv Railroads and Rail Cars CSPAN October 1, 2017 10:00pm-10:36pm EDT
watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on cspan3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic leases to learn about american history. the railroad exhibit at the henry ford museum in dearborn, michigan. matt anderson talks about the progression of american rail and shows us in 1831 steam locomotive and the allegheny engine that weighs nearly 400 tons. anderson: my name is matt anderson, curator of transportation.
we are at the henry ford museum of american innovation in dearborn, michigan. these were the key technologies of the 20th century. the railroad was the key technology of the 19th century. says not an exaggeration to a steam engineer was thought of as an astronaut is today. it is fitting we should have a collection of railroad vehicles. we have locomotives that tell the story of railroading in the united states from the early days of the 1830's through the electric locomotives in the 1920's. behind me is our earliest example. this is a replica of an 1831 locomotive. replica was built in 1892. it is historic now. this gives us an idea of what steam locomotives and trains were looked like in the late 1820's and early 1830's.
the mohawk hudson was located in new york state and would become large of one of the -- part of one of the largest railroads in the united states. railroads were small and local. they might run 15 or 20 miles between local cities. some had ambitions of connecting rivers and lakes to the ocean. eventually, we got to that point. it took decades for them to coalesce to form the comprehensive national network. people are sometimes shocked to see the locomotive and cars. they think they look like stagecoaches on steel wheels. that is exactly what they are. it took a few years to develop the standard railroad coaches known today. when the railroad was introduced, they used the technology they knew. stagecoaches worked fairly well. they tended to rock and roll when you are traveling down the road.
railroad designers realized they could come up with a more efficient system. it was not long after these were built that they went to the more standard rectangular box configuration we think of today. when the railroad was introduced in 1830's, it would have been fairly expensive to travel on. it was the upper classes traveling at that time. traveling in general was expensive. as time on, fares started to fall. the typical working average would be about three cents per mile for transportation. by the mid-19th century, we had the idea of separate classes of travel. carsthing from first-class with the luxurious appointments all the way down to the immigrating class which would have been a simple wooden coach with wooden bench seats. depending on your status, it
could be traveling in more or less comfort depending on how much you could pay for your fare. passenger and freight trains were using the same technology. the steam locomotive was introduced fairly early. early, it was horses pulling. they realized the steam engine offered greater capacity. for many years in the 19th century, they were defined by one type of locomotive. we will look at one in a moment. those were equally at home passenger orlling freight trains and became the prominent symbol of the united states in the 19th century. the locomotive behind me is the quintessential american locomotive, a 440 steam locomotive. those numbers refer to the wheel layout, the arrangement of the wheels. there are four upfront under the
pilot. there are four driving wheels powered by the rod. zero trailing wheels. 440. 266, mucheny is a bigger with many more driving wheels. this is the locomotive most of us picture when we think of the steam locomotive. this was by far the most popular type used in the second half of the 19th century in the united states. .hey were both 440's absolutely necessary we have one in our collection. this was used on the atlantic and gulf railroads and in the south. locomotives very expensive. they tried to get as much life out of them as they can, but they age and become too underpowered for heavier service. this would have been increasingly devoted to smaller service. it might have started out
pulling freight and passenger trains and then moved to the railyard. when the locomotive came to the museum, it was purchased by henry ford and put back into service to be used in the dedication ceremony for the henry ford. on that day, he brought one of his closest friends, thomas edison, along with another guest of honor, herbert hoover, president of the united states. you see it on the plaque with the date when they had the ceremony formally dedicating greenfield village and the henry ford museum. at that time, it was called the edison institute in honor of thomas edison. i always thought it was interesting the place opened october 31, 1929. arguably, one of the last good
days of herbert hoover's administration. american railroads are distinguished from british railroads. brendan is where we turn to for our inspiration in building railroads and steam locomotives. havesh railroads tended to b flat level grades, stone bridges, substantial construction with larger locomotives. they had soft right of ways. in the united states, we are always moving fast so we do not and a lot of time making things permanent. our railroads were much less expensively built. they tended to be rough. the 440 could handle the rough tract. we built with bridges -- wooden bridges rather than stone bridges. it was not uncommon for livestock to wander onto the track. in that situation, the cow does not survive. the body could still be caught underneath the train and cause it to derail.
that could be a serious problem. the cow pusher is just designed to keep the cow from falling under the locomotive and causing it to derail. it would require two crew members to operate. you had your engineer pulling the throttle and brake. you had your firemen who would be physically shuffling wood into the firebox. wood was the first widely used fuel on american railroads because it was abundant and cheap. we moved to cold by the mid-19th century because it was more efficient. we could get more power out of the equivalent and not of coal -- amount of coal. the other thing required to operate is water. we take for granted we have water everywhere in the east. but not so much in the west. providing water got to be a challenge.
they would fill tanks at specific points. often when you pulled into a station, there would be a water tower nearby. in the late 19th and early 20th century, some built track pan s, pans of water between the rails. the train could scoop up additional water without stopping. that was kind of interesting. it must have been a sight to see the water flying. they did not work as well in winter. they would try to heat the water to keep it liquid, but inevitably it would freeze up in harsh conditions. that infrastructure was another reason why the diesel electric would prove so popular. not only did you not to have the wood, you did not have to have water at stations. when we think about the passenger experience, it would have been very different in exposed cars.
there's not much protection. you will get wet and cold. there is also the matter of sparks thrown up from the locomotive. many would be fairly small and would not do much damage. some could be large enough to set clothing on fire. there are stories of people opening umbrellas to protect them from the embers. that worked fine until the umbrellas caught fire. not very comfortable. with this coach, at least you had more protection from the sparks and embers. heyou opened up the window, might catch a faithful of smoke were sent -- face full of smoke or soot. in britain, they often had private compartments with 24 people. in the united states, everyone was in the same car. inevitably, he would have some conflict. you might want the window open.
they might want it closed. you might have someone reading silently. you might have someone reading loudly. you have people singing, talking loudly. basically the way we fly on airplanes today. there is always someone annoying, whether it is the crying baby or the person who wants to talk. those kinds of issues turned up. perhaps less difficult than your clothing catching on fire but nonetheless annoying. thiswe think of the 440, is the engine that built the united states. westward expansion could not have been done without this and the transcontinental railroad and other lines that followed. think about a symbol of the united states in the 19th century, you could probably pick two. one would be the rough low and the other would be the 440 -- one would be the buffalo and the
other would be the 440 at that time. behind me is the 1942 chesapeake allegheny locomotive, the high water mark for steam locomotive technology. they do not come much bigger or more powerful. weighs close to 740,000 pounds. the water, well over one million pounds. 00 horsepower. there was a practical limit to the size you could build. the allegheny is there. any longer and it would be too long to negotiate the curves on the track and becomes too heavy. this is about as big as the steam locomotive got. longwas designed to haul coal trains through mountainous sections in western virginia. it is maybe not surprising the cno would hold onto steam power as long as it did.
by the 1940's, diesel electric had proven itself. made its money for hauling coal and would invest in this. this is easily the most photographed object in the museum. not a day goes by when i do not want past and someone is posing for a picture in front of the locomotive. i have a picture of myself as a boy posing in front. there's something about it. size is enormous selectica grabs the size is enormous so i think it grabs people. the other question is how we got into the museum. it came here not under its own power put under its own wheels. was pulled and pushed into .he museum we removed the back door.
i can say confidently i do not think it is going anywhere. a locomotive like this would require at least two people in the cab, the engineer and firemen. sizethe locomotive of this and the appetite, there was no way a human being could keep up with demand at peak capacity. instead, it has an automatic stoker that automatically pushes coal into the firebox. the firemen would be checking the fire and gauges more than doing the physical labor of shoveling the coal. it is hard to believe just two people could operate something this massive in size. 60 of these were built. they were built just in time for world war ii, something of a golden age for american railroads in terms of the service they provided.
just were material to the coast for shipment overseas but also transporting troops. troops toused to haul ships that would transport them overseas. for all of the technical sophistication, they were entirely out of date within about 18 years. the diesel locomotives had grouped themselves more efficient and flexible in how they could be used. if you neededves, to add power, you could add additional locomotives but you had to add additional crewmembers. with the diesel electric, he could string up as many as you like and they could be connected electronically so one crew can operate from the lead locomotive. we do not have to have a separate crew for each engine. operating, this was sizes had been standardized. prior to that, there were a number of different gauges,
particularly in the south which was fine as long as the railroads were local operations. you create a national network, it cannot be done. you have to move your freight from one boxcar to another. the move to standard gauges was a major change in the advancement of the railroad as a driving force in the united states. that and the adoption of standard time later in the 1880's. prior to that, people set their watches based on where the sun was at noon. dearborn might be different from chicago or detroit just 10 miles away. the railroads change that so they can operate the schedules more efficiently. we all adopted standard time and it helped us move forward certainly. we not only have static locomotives inside the museum, but in greenfield village, we have a two-mile track that runs around the village and a fleet of three steam locomotives that we carry passengers on.
it is a tremendous experience. multisensory. not only the sound, a unique smell and feel. one of the questions we often get asked is how come we never run the allegheny out there. there are several reasons. one is this is an historic artifacts so we would not want to damage it. it would be tremendously expensive to make sure to be operated safely. three, this would be a bit oversized for hauling passengers around the village. number four, it it physically could not fit and clear some of the buildings and platforms. as much as i would like to see one running again, i am afraid it is not going to happen here. steam locomotives require almost constant maintenance. there are major repairs that have to be done every so often. there are also daily inspections. you have to make sure there are no cracks or weak spots in any of the bolts. you have to inspect the boiler
tubes inside that help to boil the water to greet the student. scale builds up. -- to boil the water that creates the steam. the ash cans have to be cleaned daily. a great deal of maintenance. very labor-intensive. as long as steam was the only game in town, it was something railroads lived with. when the diesel locomotive comes on the scene in the 1920's and especially after world war ii, railroads see that they can run for thousands of miles with little maintenance. they realized there were two latest economic advantages. thesoul was embraced -- diesel electric was embraced quickly. the locomotive behind me may not be as handsome as others, that it is equally as important. this is a 1926 ingersoll-rand diesel electric, one of the
first in widespread use of american railroads. when we talk about locomotives today, we refer to them as the sole generally -- diesels generally. they are strictly speaking, diesel electric. powers andengine electric generator. that electricity is sent to a set of traction motors with each wheel set. the electric motors move the locomotive up and down the track. you are looking at an electric motor that carries its own electrical generating station in the form of the diesel motor power and the electric generator. the electric locomotives proved their worth. they required much less maintenance than steam locomotives. you did not have to clean ash. you did not have to have the infrastructure. there was no need for water tanks were large round houses
where regular maintenance and inspection work could be done. he just talked off the fuel tank and could go for thousands of miles before it required major repairs. they made their inroads fairly slowly. they were used in switching yards, perhaps not even on main railroads. it might have been owned by a factory or power plant used to haul cars around the small yard used by the factory. by the 1930's, the diesel electric started to move into where theyervice were seen as clean and modern and very popular with passengers. after what were two, they made inroads onto mainline freight service. they all but replaced the steam locomotives. this is what they look like in the first generation. they were revolutionary. not only did they reduce maintenance and criticize, they were also much easier on the
track. when we think of a steam locomotive, we think of the big steam rise going back-and-forth. cool to watch puts a lot of strain on the track. these were much gentler on the track. that was looked unfavorably by the railroads. we are looking at the front. it looks identical on the rear end as well. that was a big advantage. they were built to operate equally well in either direction. a steam engine could work in reverse in terms of the power. the problem was it was hard for the crew to see backing up. they were not designed to run full steam reverse. with the diesel locomotive, you can go either way. so that was a big advantage as well. this does not have the cow catcher that we think of with steam locomotives. 1900 asl from favor by
the nation was becoming less rural and railroads had gotten around to fencing some of the right of ways in rural areas. farmers were more cognizant of fencing. they started to do that. encounters with livestock became increasingly rare. now you have to start worrying about encounters with automobiles. that is a separate issue and requires flashing lights that start to appear more often on american rower crossings. there was concern about confusion with these locomotives. with a steam locomotive, it is endious to the crew which a is the front. in this case where it looks the same on each side, it could be dangerous if you are telling someone to back up and they go in the opposite direction. on the side, there is a little "f." that means "front."
that is an important distinction operating with a crew. there was some hesitancy as each new innovation was brought about on the part of the railroads themselves. they were famously conservative, american railroads, even to the state. they were hesitant to put money into new technology unless it was proved. able to prove itself in smaller applications. it soon proved its worth so they were quick to adopt it. passengers were eager to adopt it because it looked so fresh and modern. if you look at a lot of the promotional advertising, you will see a lot of the streamlined locomotives. they really did look very fresh and cutting-edge compared to the steam locomotive of similar vintage. this was the time when the railroads were looking to do whatever they can to attract passengers.
interstate highways are starting to be built. flying as driving and they never had before. becamesel locomotive such a quick success because it comes at just the right time. railroads had not been able to replace a lot of locomotives during the great depression and the war. they were pushing the aging infrastructure harder than ever before with all the troops and more material being moved. 1950's,ate 1940's and the roads needed to replace the locomotives anyway. it is only natural railroads electricsthe diesel and steam engines were retired as quickly as possible. it is remarkable to our visitors to think of all the work and effort that went into the allegheny locomotive and think it was built in 1942 and by 1956
it was obsolete. it happened that fast. visitors ask a lot of questions about the trains. they will ask why this one looks so weird. it looks unlike any other locomotive we have seen. it is an early example of the diesel electric locomotive at a time when people did not know what a diesel electric should look like. this is sometimes called a box cap locomotive for obvious reasons. it is really practicality in the purest form. around the housing engine and generator. controls on the back. over time, locomotives became more refined. now they tend to have cabs upfront and a long hood in the back. alongside thek engine like you do here. you go inside and flip open the panel's to access the part of
the diesel engines if it needs maintenance. it is much shorter because it was designed for simpler service. modern locomotives tend to have platforms in front and on the side for crew members to get access. you are often getting on and off the locomotives and moving cars around. safety is another issue. visitors will ask why we do not operate these locomotives, particularly the allegheny. they would love to see them running. we try to preserve them as they are. anytime you operate something, you wear away the original fabric and have to replace and repair. the object becomes less original with each passing year. frankly, there is a great deal of expense bringing one back to operating capacity so we do not do it for those reasons. then there's also the issue of size. the allegheny is far too big for the track here. there is no way we could operate
it. we do have an operating steam village next door. we have a two-mile track. we have three vintage locomotives in regular operating condition. we like to say not only are we preserving the 20th century expense of the steam locomotive, we are also reserving the skills required to operate and maintain those. people are not learning those. steam locomotives are not used in white numbers anymore so we tend -- in wide numbers anymore so we tend to get people here who want to be involved in the program. we work them through the ranks as they would have 150 years ago. they start in the shop cleaning up and helping with tasks. then you work on the maintenance of the locomotives and eventually work your way up to where you are shoveling coal and finally to engineer where you are able to operate the locomotive. it is on an informal scale we are preserving the whole system of maintenance and repair.
i do have a favorite locomotive. it is out on our railroad right now. it is the 1897 baldwin locomotive. a beautiful 440 from the later 19th century. we just put that into operating condition a few years ago. i love seeing it because it looks larger because it is larger. it almost looks out of scale. it has a beautiful whistle. the railroad crews will tell you compared to other locomotives, it is like driving a cadillac because it is smoother on the tracks. that is probably my personal favorite. i like the allegheny because everybody likes the allegheny. it is so impressive. but i will go with the baldwin. the locomotives are more or less permanent parts of our collection. we have added a few in recent decades. we've gotten rid of some because
of the space they take up and they were duplicating the stories we could tell. that is important with any museum artifact, what stories they tell. can we tell it better with something else? occasionally, museums have to remove something from their collection. things we have removed have gone to other museums so they are still in the public eye. they are just not part of our collection. we do have a diesel electric locomotive we keep operating that we use for some of our yard work. we have a gasoline powered locomotive which is kind of unusual. those are kind of prayer. this has a gas engine. those are kind of prayer. it is connected to the wheel. it is not driving a motive. those are kind of rare. it is not hooked up to a motor. the locomotive is balanced properly, one person can turn it around.
in our railroad exhibit, we are trying to tell the story of the development of the railroad as technology in the united states. it grows from regional carriers in the 1830's into a national system by the mid-to late 19th century and part of everyday american life. from a technological point of view, we are trying to tell the story of the steam locomotive from the earliest iteration to the peak of development in the early 1940's in the form of the allegheny locomotive. the ingersoll-rand in 1926 will replace the steam locomotive. it is a lot of ground to cover. we have to be judicious doing it because we only have so much space for the locomotives. they take up quite a bit of space per we have tried to be selective. i think we have gotten all of the major types and eras represented. we've only talked about a few of the locomotives. we have a couple of other locomotives.
we have a number of cars. coachthe 1850's passenger typical of the civil war era. we have freight cars including a refrigerated box car. refrigerated cars changed the american diet. prior to that, we had to eat fruits in season. with the advent of the railroads and refrigeration, we could purchase food any of year grade around the world. food anyld purchase time of year from around the world. box that was ae rolling office for the engineer. we tell the story of the railroads in an efficient way. you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website at c-span.org/history. tv is onan history
cspan3 every weekend featuring museum tours, archival films, and programs on the presidency, the civil war, and more. here is a clip from a recent program. for me, this is nine months into the job. i was still learning a lot about traveling with the president and all of that. thatin the classroom moment. the expression on the president's face changed. i knew something was very wrong. i knew the president well enough at that stage. ,alking into the classroom behind the second classroom there was a hold room where the president and staff were. there was a tv in that room. immediately when we left the classroom, we walk in and seeing those images, the live images of the burning towers, i will never
forget. i was stunned. i knew that they would be huge in terms of history. not knowing how big or bad it stage,et, even at that even more with the attacks in washington and all the planes involved. my immediate thought was to connect to what was happening in new york with what the president was doing. the president walked into the room. i was waiting to make that picture when he stopped to see the images on tv. he never stopped. he picked up a notepad and started collecting information because he was immediately preparing for his first statement not only to the nation but the world in response to the attacks. bartlette shows dan
pointing to the tv. that was the first time we started seeing the replay of the second tower getting hit. the motion of the airplane hitting the tower and the explosion burned into everyone's memory, that is the first time the president saw it. right after that moment when dan bartlett alerted everyone in the room, he said look at the tv and we saw it. everyone was stunned in silence because we had never seen it. we heard what had happened. to me, that is the critical moment the president visually could connect what really happened. just that second later, the president turned to see that image for the first time. you can watch this and other american history programs on our website where all our video is archived. c-span.org/history. with a series of north korean
missile tests in the news recently, we decided to look back at the development of missiles and bombers in the united states. america," the air force missile mission. appearing in his beverly hills home library, academy award-winning actor and world war ii bomber pilot james stewart uses models, animation, and archival film to describe how the u.s. air force missile and jet arsenal is used as a deterrent in the cold war. mr. stewart, who reflects on his world war ii service in a b-24 liberator, was promoted in 1959 to brigadier general in the u.s. air force reserve, and flew a 1966 vietnam bombing mission. this is about 24 minutes.