0-4-0 4-Coupled “Rocket”

Inside the Franklin Institute, date unknown. (photographer unknown)

Background & History

The “Rocket” was one of eight locomotives (Firefly, Spitfire, Comet, Dragon, Helca, Planet and Gem) ordered from and built by the Braithwaite, Milner & Company of London, England in 1838 for passenger service on the Philadelphia & Reading. It was delivered to the Port of Philadelphia, transported by canal boats on the Schuylkill Canal to Reading, PA and hauled by horses up Penn Street to the railroad at Seventh Street. It was a typical wood burner, had four 41.75" drivers, 10.5" x 16" cylinders and weighed just slightly over 17,000 pounds. Its boiler was capable of developing 25 horsepower.*[1]

Converted in 1863 to 0-4-0 tank type. Renumbered to #1 in 1872. Retired from service in 1879 after traveling 310,164 miles. Restored to original as-built configuration for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Donated to the Franklin Institute in 1933.

Archival Photos

• Photos to come.

“Rocket” Engine Specifications: *[2]
Builder: Braithwaite, Milner & Co., England Cylinders (2): 10.5" dia. x 16" stroke
Date built: 1838 Cylinder horsepower: unknown
Wheels: 0-4-0 Boiler pressure: unknown
Length: unknown Tractive effort engine: unknown
Driving wheel diameter: 41.75" Tractive effort w/Booster: n/a
Weight on drivers: 17,000 lbs. Horsepower rating: 25
Total engine weight: 17,000 lbs. Top speed: unknown
Total weight in working order: unknown Tender capacity: unknown
Grate area: unknown Fuel: Wood
*1 (info courtesy Steam Locomotives of the Reading and P&R Railroads by Edward Wiswesser)
*2 (info courtesy steamlocomotive.info)
(last updated: 6/03)