Treasures of The Henry Ford: DeWitt Clinton Replica. Standing in stark contrast to the behemoth C&O Allegheny just a few feet away, is this replica of one of the very first steam locomotives to ever operate in the US. Built in 1931 for the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad....one of the predecessors to the New York Central...this diminutive and rather primitive 0-4-0 was used on an 18-mile stretch of track between the adjacent cities of Albany and Schenectady, New York. Named for a former Governor of the State of New York and the man most responsible for the Erie Canal, this locomotive was equipped with a primitive tender that carried supplies of fuel and water, and pulled a short string of coaches, fabricated from stage coach bodies. Stories from back in the day indicate that the fares charged by the railroad to ride this early passenger train were so steep, that only rich folks could afford the tickets. The common folk probably weren't missing much on this train, as some of the outdoor seating, high up on those coach bodies, was smack in the locomotive's exhaust plume. Hey, it was a first and the engineers still had a few bugs to work out! Unfortunately, the original DeWitt Clinton had a very short working life. She was scrapped in 1833, just two years after she entered service.....but the future of mass transportation was clear.
As noted above, the locomotive you see in this photo is not the original. Rather, it is a working replica, constructed by the New York Central for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Over the ensuing years, the railroad exhibited and operated it at numerous fairs and expositions. The replica was eventually purchased by Henry Ford in 1934, but by agreement with the railroad, it continued to be exhibited around the country, well into the 1950s. Today, it has a permanent home in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Sure, you can say "aw, it's just a replica", but it's a replica that's nearly 130 years old!