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01: Early Photograph of an Early Locomotive, the Tioga (editor's title)

Tioga, one of the earliest photographs of a locomotive
Like so many American institutions, railroading came to the U.S. from England. First significant construction began in 1828 with the Baltimore & Ohio; the first steam locomotive operated in 1830 in South Carolina. Twenty years later, in May 1848, this steam locomotive, the Tioga, emerged from the Norris Brothers’ factory in Philadelphia, the early locomotive capital of America. It was purchased by the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad, which undoubtedly arranged for this remarkable image taken in Philadelphia and one of only two or three surviving railroad pictures from this era. From the 1830s to the 1930s, steam engines powered virtually all trains, then were replaced by diesels. Like the Tioga, the picture itself represents an early technology, the daguerreotype, which was developed in France in 1839. This print was made from a copy negative of a daguerreotype, which was carefully posed. The drive shafts are in their lowest position, empasizing the horizontals that contrast with the vertical white plume that in turn contrasts against the commercial brick building in the background. The train crew wore their finest clothes. Strips of ingrain carpet hang outside windows and inside a show window of the background building. The daguerreotype hallmark in the lower left indicates the plate was made by A. Gaudin, a French company whose products were widely used by daguerreians throughout America. Exterior photography like this required very long exposure times and was reserved for images of importance.

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Alternate Title Railroad History in a Nutshell
Source Chaney Collection, Smithsonian Institution
Coverage Spatial, Philadelphia; Temporal, circa 1849
Rights Unknown
Date Created c1849
Resource Type
Extent Not available
Depicted Railroad
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Comments Permission provided by Bill Withuhn, Smithsonian curator. The original daguerreoptype's whereabouts is not known. The Smithsonian has an excellent copy.
Collection Chaney Collection, Smithsonian Institution
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