Historic rail locomotives added to ‘Preservation’ auction at the Simeone

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Train accession photopgraphs from the collections of the Museum of Science and Industry
The Mississippi on display at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago | Bonhams photo
The Mississippi on display at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago | Bonhams photo

It’s not only automobiles that will be offered at Bonhams’ “Preserving the Automobile” auction October 5 at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. Several historic railway locomotives that have spent the past 80 years at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago also will be part of the auction.

Dating to 1834, the “Mississippi” was built in England in 1834 and is believed to be the first locomotive used in that state. The steam engine also has extensive Civil War history, first with the Confederate Army and later with the Union side.

Also being offered is a replica of the “John Stevens,” which was the first locomotive to operate on rails in the United States and was used to demonstrate the potential for steam-powered rail transport of people and goods at a reasonable cost. The original was built in 1825. The replica was built in 1929.

The “York” was designed by watchmaker Phineas Davis and was one of the first coal-burning engines in the U.S. Built in 1831, it won a locomotive contest staged by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. A replica of the “York” also is being offered at the auction.

Another offering from the Chicago museum’s collection is a replica of “Archer Avenue No. 10,” an 1859 horse-drawn rail car. Such cars were used in urban areas — New York, Philadelphia, Chicago — where steam locomotives were impractical. They were predecessors to the electric streetcars that later were used for urban transport.

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The fifth rail vehicle, also on display for more than 80 years at the museum, is a replica of a 1920 steam locomotive cab that was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company display at the Century of Progress Fair held in Chicago in the early 1930s.

In its news release about the rail vehicles, Bonhams notes that, because of their size, the items from the Chicago museum will not be at the sale; interested potential buyers can make arrangements with Bonhams to see them in person.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.