Stockton Terminal & Eastern Railroad - No. 1

Travel Town's Oldest Locomotive

Travel Town’s oldest locomotive has a very long and storied history in railroading.  Originally named Mariposa, her story began with a trip by sailing ship around Cape Horn to San Francisco!   In 1864, when this engine was built at the Norris Locomotive Works in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, there were no railroad tracks connecting America’s industrial East with its frontier settlements on the West Coast.  Once in California, this little locomotive was soon put to work helping to build those much needed tracks – America’s First Transcontinental Railroad, linking the east and west coasts, was completed in 1869.  Now more than 150 years later, the Mariposa is one of only three locomotives that survive from this monumental construction project that profoundly shaped the development of the United States.

Early steam locomotives were often given individual names to distinguish one from another, in addition to an inventory number for the accounting and record-keeping purposes.  As complex machines, each locomotive had its own ‘personality’ as well, with unique attributes and operating quirks well known to engineers and others who worked on the railroad.  In 1864, the Norris Locomotive Works built five new locomotives, including the Mariposa, for an early California railroad company named Western Pacific – – formed to build a line from San Jose to Sacramento to connect with the Central Pacific, which was building east over the Sierras towards Nevada and Utah.   However, after constructing only 20 miles of track out of San Jose, the Western Pacific ran into financial troubles and construction came to a halt.  Through a complicated legal transaction, the “Big Four” owners of the Central Pacific were able to acquire the Western Pacific’s assets; construction resumed and the Mariposa (formally Western Pacific engine number “G”) joined the Central Pacific’s locomotive roster in 1868.  During the final months of the Transcontinental Railroad construction, she was renumbered as Central Pacific “31” to replace another locomotive (named Klammath) that exploded near Elko, Nevada in March 1869.
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