When operations first began the C&A used traditional horsepower as Stevens stored his John Bull (named after an English figure similar to America's Uncle Sam)
away until the railroad was completed. The work to rebuild the
locomotive was handed over to chief mechanic Isaac Dripps who,
unfortunately, had to do so without the aid of any drawings or instructions.
Luckily, his work on steamboats at least gave him an idea of how steam
boilers functioned and were assembled. Amazingly, it took just 11 days
to reconstruct the locomotive and it was ready for a test trials by
September 15th. On November 12, 1831 the Bull performed a short
run with New Jersey politicians and dignitaries riding along. With the
railroad still not completed, however, it was the last time the little
0-4-0 would run for two years. As the C&A neared completion in the
spring of 1833 Stevens put the Bull to use helping to finish the route along with a handful of other steamers he owned by that time.
It should be noted that when first put into service the John Bull was named Stevens and given the roster number of 1. However, crews began referring to it as the old John Bull, which later became its official name. After a short time in service crews realized that the locomotive was too heavy for the trackage used on the C&A, its 10-ton frame simply could not be supported, which caused numerous derailments. To correct this problem the steamer was given a front, pilot axle to help guide it into curves, which kept it from derailing so often. Curiously, workers decided to add affix a cow-catcher to this lead axle as nothing more than an afterthough, a feature that later became quite useful in larger models like the 4-4-0 American to move cows off of the tracks without derailing the train.
To add the pilot axle, however, required the removal of the coupling rod between the two main axles. Because of this the John Bull's only powered wheel-set was the rear axle, closest to the control stand although it was still listed as a 2-4-0. Further updates continued for the locomotive as crews realized the need for a makeshift cab over the control stand would, at the very least, keep the engineer out of the rain and wind. However, this cab was not, at first, built onto the rear of the locomotive; the trailing tender was enclosed and a short roof was extended over the engineer's area. Finally, two more additions added included a small headlight and bell. During the Bull's final years in service this was changed to the locomotive having its own, enclosed cab and a double-trucked tender.
After 35 years of faithful service the Bull was retired
in 1866. On February 1, 1867 the C&A was leased by the
Pennsylvania Railroad, which understood the significance of the
locomotive and had it restored for publicity purposes where it appeared
for the 1876 United States Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Two
years later the PRR showcased the steamer at the National Railway
Appliance Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois where the railroad found a
buyer, the Smithsonian Institution, which would acquire it 1885. The Bull
continued to tour the country appearing at the World's Columbian
Exposition in Chicago during 1893 and attended the Baltimore &
Ohio's Fair of the Iron Horse in Baltimore, Maryland in 1927. In 1981
it was restored to operating condition and operated by the Smithsonian,
serving as the world's oldest operable steam locomotive. Today, it is
still on display although a replica may also be seen at the Railroad
Museum of Pennsylvania.
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