| September/October 1978

  • John Best
    John Best

  • John Best


This article about the Best Steam Engine and Boiler Works, which won world renown in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the late 1800s, is prompted as much by a desire for information as it is to record some of the story.

So far as I know, there is no connection between the John Best who founded the Pennsylvania firm and the Daniel Best Family which built steam traction engines a little later in California.

If any reader can supply additional light, it will be appreciated. Piecing together the stories of early manufacturers is not easy, although some researchers have had considerable success.

My interest in John Best was stirred because he lived in Lancaster, which is our magazine's home town. Robert Lefever, a Rough & Tumble member, loaned me a Lancaster County Fair program of 1887 which had Best and other steam ads in it, and I decided I would try to learn more.

Then Jim said that a biography of John Best had appeared in the Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, published in 1903, and that sealed it. So here is a summary of what I learned about the Best of Lancaster with the hope that if any of this make's engines survive, we be told so that we can obtain photographs.