The Stourbridge Lion

"Stourbridge Lion" Painting by A. Sheldon Pennoyer originally hanging in the Delaware and Hudson office at 230 Park Avenue, NY, NY
(Image reprinted with permission from Jim Shaughnessy's "The Delaware & Hudson" )

The "STOURBRIDGE LION" was the first locomotive  to run on a railway in America, and was operated between Honesdale and Seely's Mills in Pennsylvania on the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company's railroad, August 8, 1829.

On March 13, 1823, The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company obtained rights from the Legislature of Pennsylvania, authorizing them to construct a canal from the mouth of the Lackawaxen to the present site of Honesdale and also to construct a railroad from their coal beds at Cardondale to the head of this canal.

In  January, 1828, Horatio Allen left New York for England and contracted for four locomotives, one of which, the "STOURBRIDGE LION," built by Foster, Rastrick and Company of Stourbridge, England, was shipped in February, 1829, unloaded in New York, May 14, and then taken to Honesdale, PA., arriving the later part of July, where it was placed on the track and prepared for service. 

One of the Company's coal wagons was fitted up to serve as a tender and a box added under the boiler, built around the junction of the two exhaust pipes form the cylinders with the single exhaust pipe to the stack, from which water flowing form the tender was pumped into the boiler.  This was probably the first feed water heater in America.

The name LION was suggested by the fancy of a workman, who painted on the circular front , the head of a fierce-looking lion in bright colors, covering nearly the entire area.

Early in the forenoon of August 8, 1829, the "STOURBRIDGE LION"  was "fired up" with Lackawaxen coal and ready to go.  It was run back and forth on the straight portion of the track by Mr. Allen and then set forth on its history-making trip, for it was the first locomotive to run on a railroad in the Western Hemisphere, covering a distance of about one and a half miles to Seely's Mills, where it was reversed and returned to its starting point. 

The trial was a failure despite the beautiful performance of the Lion.  The original specification for the locomotive had specified a maximum weight of 4 tons.  The Lion and her sisters weighed in at 7.5 tons, nearly double the specified weight.  The track made of hemlock rails with iron railcap with tie spacing of 10' between ties had been constructed for a much lighter locomotive and would not support the greater weight of the locomotives.  Sadly, the Lion and her sisters were retired to other uses.  The only remaining pieces of these locomotives are the boiler from the Lion and one of the cylinders from the America, both in the possession of the Smithsonian.  All traces of the Delaware and the Hudson Locomotives disappeared after the locomotives had been delivered to Honesdale.

Locomotive Characteristics



Weight on engine truck, pounds None
Weight on drivers, pounds 14,000
Weight of engine, pounds 14,000
Weight of tender loaded, pounds 5,800
Weight of engine and tender, pounds 19,800
Boiler pressure, pounds 50
Cylinders, two 8-1/2 x 36"
Drivers, diameter 48"
Tractive effort, pounds 825
Grate area, square feet 8
Valves and motion Slide, Loose eccentric
Feed water heater

Foster, Rastrick and Co.

Tank capacity 400 Gals., 1/4 Ton
Fuel, kind Anthracite
Track Gauge 4' 3"

All photographs except "Agenoria" reprinted with permission from Jim Shaughnessy's "The Delaware & Hudson" (D&H collection)

The "STOURBRIDGE LION" replica was built at the Delaware and Hudson Railroad's Colonie Shops, NY, in 1933 after careful research to insure a true reproduction.  

All iron parts have been hand-forged to duplicate the workmanship of the original and the same care exercised with respect to all the detail parts to obtain a true representation. 

The replica has been operated under its own steam fired by anthracite.

Photograph courtesy of Jim Shaughnessy

Photograph courtesy of Jim Odell

A fourth locomotive was produced by Foster, Rastrick and Company.  

The Agenoria was the fourth locomotive of the 'Lion' class believed by many to have been the prototype of the four, as it shows a number of modifications.

It began operation on the local Kingswinford Railway, moving coal and other items between the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal, and the Pensnett Ironworks, which was owned by James Foster, one of the partners in Foster, Rastrick Co..

Although rapidly dated, it operated successfully until around 1863, and was then refurbished and passed to the Science Museum London.  It is now in the National Railway Museum, York and is one of their oldest exhibits.

Photograph supplied by Thomas Cockeram

Updated: 3 November, 2003

D&H Sheild

Information supplied by Thomas Cockeram, Jim Shaughnessy, Jim Odell, John A. Shaw, Neil C. Hunter, 
the Delaware & Hudson Press,  and the Bridge Line Historical Society
Rail graphics supplied by Kenneth E. Houghton, John A. Shaw, Roland O'Connell and the Bridge Line Historical Society

This page is maintained by: John A. Shaw and  Neil C. Hunter Australia
Copyright © 1996-2011, The Bridge Line Historical Society