Atlantic (locomotive)

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This article is about The invention of the 1830s Atlantic 0-4-0 Steam Locomotive the first practical American coal-burning railroad locomotive. For the famous 'Alantic 4-4-2 class' of steam locomotives, see 4-4-2 Atlantic class locomotives. For other uses, see Atlantic (disambiguation).
B&O 0-4-0 Atlantic (1832).jpg
The former Andrew Jackson, rebuilt to resemble the Atlantic, preserved on static display at the B&O Railroad Museum.
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Phineas Davis
Build date 1832
Configuration 0-4-0
Gauge 4 ft 8½ in (1435 mm)
Locomotive weight 6.5 tons
Fuel type anthracite coal
Boiler pressure 50 psi
Cylinders 2
Performance figures
Power output 63 hp (47 kW)
Tractive effort 1,570 pound force
Operator(s) Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Nicknames "Grasshopper"
Retired 1835
Disposition scrapped

Atlantic was the name of an very early American steam locomotive built by inventor and foundry owner Phineas Davis for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) in 1832. It is in fact the first commercially successful and practical American built locomotive and class prototype, and Davis' second constructed for the B&O, his first having won a design competition contest announced by the B&O in 1830. ATLANTICS are also the name given an entire and famous class of high speed 4-4-2 classed[1] passenger service locomotives developed by the Baldwin Locomotive Works between 1887–1894 for express passenger services.[2] (See Main article: 4-4-2 locomotive.)

Design and construction[edit]

Built at a cost of $4,500, the Atlantic weighed 6.5 tons and had two vertical cylinders. It was commissioned after Davis' entry had won the competition for a steam locomotive design, but the contract was awarded to the inventor of the Tom Thumb; when the five locomotives commissioned failed the contracted delivery, B&O bought out the patents. A few of these were incorporated in the Atlantic by Davis, whether by specification or because Davis wanted them is unclear. The locomotives he delivered before his death in 1835 were the first commercially feasible, sufficiently efficient coal burning steam locomotives produced domestically in the United States and placed into traction service.

Ox teams were used to convey the engine to Baltimore, where it made a successful inaugural trip to Ellicott's Mills, Maryland, a distance of thirteen miles (19 km). Nicknamed the 'Grasshopper' for its distinctive horizontal beam and long connecting rods, the locomotive carried 50 pounds (344.73 kPa, 3.44 bar) of steam and burned a ton of anthracite coal on a 40-mile (64 km) trip from Baltimore. Satisfied with this locomotive's operations, the B&O built 20 more locomotives of a similar design at its Mt. Clare shops in Baltimore. Despite this success, the Atlantic prototype engine was scrapped in 1835 after the death of Phineas Davis. Why is unclear.

Replica Atlantic[edit]

In 1892, a similar Grasshopper engine, the no. 7 Andrew Jackson built in 1836 by Ross Winans and George Gillingham, was rebuilt to resemble the 1832 Atlantic, intended to be used as a heritage showpiece. The former Andrew Jackson was first exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, then exhibited again at the 1939 New York World's Fair, and finally in 1948-49 at the Chicago Railroad Fair as part of the latter fair's "Wheels A-Rolling" pageant. Afterwards, it was placed on display in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, where it currently remains.


  • Chicago Railroad Fair Official Guide Book (1949).
  • White, John H., Jr. (1968). A history of the American locomotive; its development: 1830-1880. Dover Publications, New York, NY. ISBN 0-486-23818-0. p 71.


  1. ^ Whyte System of locomotive classification
  2. ^ "4-4-2 "Atlantic" Type Locomotives".  . Retrieved 24 August 2013. In 1887 the New York, Providence & Boston added a trailing axle to a 4-4-0 in order to spread its weight over more axles. That same year Hinkley built an experimental center-cab 4-4-2. The AT&SF bought a similar experimental locomotive. The ACL (Atlantic Coast Line) was interested in a locomotive with more steaming capacity than their 4-4-0s. In 1894 Baldwin designed a conventional 4-4-2 locomotive for the ACL and named it after them. Other railroads bought and called these locomotives "Atlantics". ,