American Locomotive Builders

| March/April 1983

John H. White, curator of transportation at the Smithsonian Institution, has written a valuable new book which can make good reading for all persons interested in steam as a source of power.

Its short title is AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE BUILDERS Its long title is A SHORT HISTORY OF AMERICAN LOCOMOTIVE BUILDERS IN THE STEAM ERA. It is full of wonderful old pictures and information on the engine makers.

This is White's eighth book. He is America's leading expert in the field, and bases the book on 20 years of collecting notes and railroad souvenirs. The reader gets the benefit of his ability to assemble and present his knowledge.

Some people say that collectors and restorers of steam traction engines the engines used primarily on the farms do not care a lot for steam locomotives, which were mainly for use on railroads.

There is, however, a relationship which is very important between the two kinds of engines. Both sprang from the idea that steam could power almost anything, during the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution. Steam locomotives came first, but both were strong economic forces adding to the growth of the American nation.

In some cases, companies that made locomotives also manufactured traction or stationary engines. And, along the line, many companies in both fields started, produced engines, and then faded into history.