American railroads of the early 19th century were cheaply and hastily built. They were characterized by inferior roadbeds, steep grades, sharp curves, and rough track. In spring, poor drainage and lack of ballast might cause the track to sink into the soggy roadbed and produced an unstable path. In winter this same roadbed could freeze into a hard and unyielding pavement on which the rolling stock was pounded to pieces. In those pioneering times... more...

In the mid-nineteenth century there was a renewed interest in the light, single-axle locomotives which were proving so very successful for passenger traffic. These engines were built in limited number by nearly every well-known maker, and among the few remaining is the 6-wheel “Pioneer,” on display in the Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution. This locomotive is a true representation of a light passenger... more...