You can see the oldest American-made locomotive at Rail Festival this weekend

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
The oldest existing American built locomotive, the B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, is one of the transportation treasures that will be on display this weekend during the Carillon Park Rail Festival.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

This weekend’s Carillon Park Rail Festival is the perfect time to see it

The oldest existing American built locomotive, the B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, is one of the transportation treasures that will be on display this weekend during the Carillon Park Rail Festival.

The origin of the John Quincy Adams, how it took on an unusual nickname, and its’ twisting path to Dayton is an intriguing adventure.

Caption
The B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, built in 1835 by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, is the oldest existing locomotive built in the United States. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

The B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, built in 1835 by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, is the oldest existing locomotive built in the United States. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Caption
The B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, built in 1835 by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, is the oldest existing locomotive built in the United States. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

“The Baltimore & Ohio, the first commercial railroad in the United States, ran a contest in the early 1830s to design an engine, “said Bob Limoseth, a volunteer at Carillon Historical Park.

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“Phineas Davis, a watch maker from York, Pennsylvania submitted a design which was different from all the others in that the rods and the pistons ran in an up and down position as opposed to a horizontal position. From that design it gained the nickname the “grasshopper.”

The John Quincy Adams was one of seven locomotives built with this unique design and put into service. Originally it was on a line from Baltimore to Washington D.C. carrying passengers who paid $2.50 for a ticket.

 

Over the years its name was removed and changed as the engines with this design were scrapped.

The provenance of the John Quincy Adams became even more muddled in 1893 when it was altered to appear as an 1833 locomotive named Traveler, to appear in what was billed as the “greatest historical railroad show in the world” at the Chicago World’s Fair.

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The “grasshopper” returned to Baltimore and sat in a scrap yard before it was placed in a museum unrestored, according to Dayton History research.

Caption
The B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, built in 1835 by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, is the oldest existing locomotive built in the United States. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

The B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, built in 1835 by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, is the oldest existing locomotive built in the United States. LISA POWELL / STAFF
Caption
The B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, built in 1835 by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, is the oldest existing locomotive built in the United States. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

In 1947 Col. Edward Deeds, chairman of the board of The National Cash Register Company, approached the B&O for a train engine for his new museum.

The railroad company had Traveler available and Deeds sent it off for restoration. During rebuilding the true identity of the locomotive was revealed. Deeds had acquired the John Quincy Adams.

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“The uniqueness of the train, the uniqueness of the design, and the fact that it is the only remaining American made steam engine from that time period makes it special,” said Limoseth.

Today the B&O #1, John Quincy Adams, is on display in the James F. Dicke Family Transportation Center at Carillon Historical Park. A Barney & Smith wooden parlor car, an Interurban and more transportation history are also on display in the center.

The two-day rail festival will feature live steam engines, model train displays, and free miniature train rides.

WANT TO GO? 

What: Carillon Park Rail Festival

Where: Carillon Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

When:  Saturday June 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday June 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission: Adults: $8; seniors (60+): $7 and children (3-17): $5; Dayton History members: free.

Parking is free.

For more information: (937) 293-2841 or railfestival.com 

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