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A complete side view of the John Bull locomotive, its tender, and passenger car during its 150th anniversary run

Period depiction of the John Bull locomotive, about 1865

John Bull Steam Locomotive

Oldest complete and operable locomotive in the world
This locomotive was shipped disassembled from the English port of Liverpool to Philadelphia in 1831. From there, it was transported to Bordentown, NJ, where 21-year-old mechanic Isaac Dripps was given the task of putting it together. Dripps had never even seen a locomotive before, and there were no instructions for its assembly. Nevertheless, he and his crew assembled the locomotive in just 11 days. Two years later, the John Bull began regular service between Philadelphia, PA and New York City, two of the most important cities of the day. It was retired in the 1860s and has belonged to the Smithsonian since 1885. On its 150th birthday in 1981, the John Bull was operated over tracks in Washington, DC, pulling its tender and a passenger car from the same period.

Made by Robert Stephenson & Co., Newcastle, England
Donated by the Pennsylvania Railroad Co., 1885

Learn more!
· John Bull Locomotive
· American Railroad Expansion (1870-1950)

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