Bradford and Foster Brook Railway

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Bradford and Foster Brook Railway
Peg Leg Railroad, Quit Business 1880, Bradford, PA.jpg
Bradford & Foster Brook Monorail, 1880
Type Monorail
Status Dismantled
Locale McKean County, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Termini Bradford, Pennsylvania (west)
Foster Township, McKean County, Pennsylvania (east)
Opened January, 1878
Closed January, 1879
Operator(s) Bradford & Fosterbrook Railway Company
Character At Grade
Line length 5 mi (8.0 km)
Operating speed 30 mi (48.3 km) per hour

The Bradford & Foster Brook Railway[1] was one of the earliest, if not the first, monorails in America. Inspired by a working demonstration of the Centennial Monorail at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876, Col. Roy Stone thought it would solve transportation problems near Bradford, Pennsylvania. In 1876, Bradford was a booming oil town with thousands of dollars' worth of machinery and oil supplies awaiting delivery. Because of very muddy road conditions, deliveries to the oil fields were delayed. Construction of the railroad was already started by October 31, 1877, when the Railway Corporation was founded.

The railway consisted of a series of piles driven into the ground connected by 12" square timbers upon which set a single rail. Exactly three feet below the railhead was a stringer on each side. This stringer bore a wear strip upon which the rail cars pressed a wheel for balance. Road crossings operated like a fence gate, as did switches.

A variety of engines were constructed for the railway. The first engine had twin boilers and sat low on the rail. It wore out quickly, and was replaced by a heavier engine of more conventional single-boiler design. This engine had only two drivers and bore heavily on the rail, crashing through on its fourth trip along the railway. No one was hurt in the accident, although several people had to be fished out of the stream with some hazard to their dignity. That engine may or may not have continued to operate, however by the beginning of the next year, a third locomotive had been constructed, again using twin boilers.

This third locomotive had second-hand boilers. They were tested to their specifications; however, on the engine's trial run, one boiler ran dry and when too much water was introduced by an inexperienced fireman, the excess steam caused that boiler to explode, killing six people, and putting an end to the railroad.


  1. ^ Kilmer, Lawrence W. Bradford & Foster Brook, Peg Leg Railroad. p. 36. 

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