From: joseph Klapkowski [mailto:riverlinejoe@...
Sent: Wednesday, January 05, 2005 3:03 PM
Subject: RE: [FJGRailroad] The Black Maria
That package went out today....................
>From: "Dicarlo, Gino" <Gino.Dicarlo@...>
>Subject: [FJGRailroad] The Black Maria
>Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2005 09:28:20 -0600
>I just found a great story about a GE Center-Cab Electric motor engine
>on the net. It's the story of the Black Maria which was originally
>built for the Cayadutta Electric and wound up on the NYC Troy &
>Schenectady Branch in Niskayuna. I was looking for some info on the
>Troy & Schenectady for my web-page when I found the article. I know
>you'll enjoy it!
>Engine # 1386, the "Black Maria" (pronounced "Mariah"), was the first
>double truck direct-electric steeple cab freight locomotive ever
>produced by General Electric Company. In 1893, the General Electric
>Company, itself only a year old, had completed it's first electric
>locomotive, which was a small, slow speed, four wheeled machine that
>was intended for switching service. It was deemed a success and the
>company accepted an order to build a second locomotive, to be larger,
>faster and suitable for regular railway freight service. The contract
>was with Cayadutta Electric Railway Company of Gloversville, NY, for
>the price of $14,500. After the contract was signed and the locomotive
>was being built, Cayadutta elected to buy two larger locomotives, but
>requested a release from the original contract (which it received). The
>locomotive was sold the following year in 1895 to the Taftville Cotton
>Mill (later renamed Ponemah Mills) in Taftville CT.
>The mill owned one and a half miles of railroad plus sidings, which
>connected to the Norwich & Worcester, under lease to the New York & New
>England Railroad from 1895 to 1898. The line was used to bring freight
>into and out of the mill, as well as several small factories along the
>way. Being a progressive company, the mill was one of the earliest to
>use electric power. With the Norwich electric street railway near by,
>seemed natural to have an electric locomotive and railway.
>The locomotive was described in ELECTRICAL WORLD of September 8, 1894,
>as being a thirty-five ton, 500 volt D.C. machine with four motors
>designed to perform the ordinary work of a steam locomotive of similar
>capacity, where excess speeds are not requisite, up to thirty miles per
>hour. It has a pair of independent trucks, each having four wheels.
>pair of wheels is driven by it's own specially designed motor of the
>single reduction spur gear type, mounted upon the axle as in ordinary
>street car practice.
>The cab rests on the trucks in a manner somewhat similar to that in
>which the ordinary passenger car is mounted, an ample margin for wear
>and strength being provided. The cab itself is constructed of sheet
>and windows in it are arranged as to give an almost unobstructed view
>from on position in all directions. The design of the cab was to give
>plenty of available floor space without making the top of the cab long
>enough to obstruct the sight. The form of the cab also makes a
>symmetrically shaped locomotive, which would become known as the
>"Steeple Cab" type locomotive - with hundreds built in the years to
>The electrical equipment comprises, besides the motors, a
>series-parallel controller, control resistors, circuit breakers, and an
>air compressor, which provides the air for the brakes and whistle. In
>addition, there are the bell, headlights, and sand boxes. It's overall
>dimensions are 24 ft. long over draw bar, 11 ft. 2in. high, and 7ft. 4
>in. wide. Wheels are 40 inches in diameter, with a single truck
>wheelbase of 6 feet. The draw bar pull was stated to be 14,000 pounds.
>The motor resistors, circuit breakers, and air compressor and its tank
>are all mounted inside the cab. The single brake cylinder is centrally
>The locomotive was originally supplied with a large wooden pilot on
>end, draw bar couplers, two large headlights, a forty-pound brass bell,
>and whistle. It also had two trolley poles. In later years, the pilots
>were replaced with footboards, and knuckle couplers were added. The two
>headlights and one of the trolley poles were removed sometime during
>seventy years of service at the mill. Those were the only changes the
>locomotive saw on it's outside. The nickname "Black Maria", was given
>the locomotive by the property owners of Taftville, whose front yards
>rode through for many a year.
>The locomotive went into service in May 1895. It was in "trouble free"
>service for many years, with only major renovation being to update the
>motors in 1911. The change was due to a revision in the Mill's power
>supply. Its last trip hauling freight was August 3, 1964, bring a load
>of starch to the mill. Its last operation under power was August 11,
>1964, when it drove itself onto a flatbed trailer for a trip to the
>"American Museum of Electricity" in Niskayuna, NY.
>Engine # 1386 rode the highways of Connecticut into New York and was
>off-loaded at the G.S.A. depot in Scotia, NY, near the General Electric
>Facility in Schenectady, NY (the "Electric City"). It stayed within the
>confines of the G.E. property from October 1964 until October 19, 1965.
>On October 19, 1965, with the help of the New York Central Alco
>switcher, the locomotive was moved from the G.S.A., along the freight
>sidings of Schenectady and up into Niskayuna. The locomotive was
>along with two interurban cars from the Chicago, North Shore, and
>Milwaukee Railroad (numbers 162 and 710), on a section of track of the
>NYC Troy-Schenectady branch where the American Museum of Electricity
>secured property. The Museum had acquired several acres of land and
>right-of-way along the Mohawk River in an area known to this day as
>"Lock-7". The plan was to develop a "working" museum with a loop track
>and erect storage and maintenance facilities at the site.
>Unfortunately, the plans for the museum did not come to fruition. The
>locomotive sat on the siding, along with the two interurban cars, for
>six years. In the spring of 1971, several of the locomotive's
>"guardians" discovered that it and the interurban cars had been
>vandalized for copper. Several sections of copper bus bar and the
>compressor drive motor had been removed, in addition to a section of
>locomotive's brass handrail and it's original whistle.
>It was decided by the American Museum of Electricity to dispose of the
>equipment. The locomotive was offered as a donation to the Connecticut
>Electric Railway Association, in view of the fact that they had been
>found to have sort of a prior claim to it. The Association had
>approached the Ponemah Mills about acquiring the locomotive well before
>the American Museum of Electricity, and they had received a verbal
>commitment from the Mill's former management. The Mill's later
>management in New York City was unaware of that agreement.
>With the help of Joseph D. Thompson, the Connecticut Electric Railway
>received the donation of Engine # 1386, and for $400.00, purchased the
>Ponemah Mill's line material and Locomotive "C" (now renumbered S-193).
>The line material and Locomotive "C" were donated to the American
>of Electricity by Ponemah Mills when they closed their electric train
>service in 1964.
>On October 21, 1971, Engine # 1386 was lifted off the siding tracks and
>onto a flatbed truck by the donated services of the Albany Crane Co.
>(courtesy of Robert White, a National Railway Historic Society member).
>With great care and many eyes watching, the locomotive rode down
>roads it was on six years prior, and arrived at the Connecticut
>Railway's property the same day.
>History by Edward J. Paprocki, October 2000.
>Amended by William E. Wood, April 2001.
>Mr. Ben Anthony of the "Museum of Erie GE History", in Erie, PA for an
>article he supplied entitled "Archetype of Steeple Cabs, The Ponemah
>Mills Electric Locomotive" by Joseph D. Thompson. The article appeared
>in the National Railway Historical Society Bulletin number 6 in 1965.
>Mr. William F. Heim for his photographs and copies of correspondences
>with GE in regards to Engine # 1386.
>Street Railway Journal - May 1895 article on "Power Source & Engine".
>Trains Magazine - Volume 19, October 1959 - pages 24 & 25 "Meet The
>Black Maria" by B. Thomas Walsh, and Volume 26, February 1966 - page 10
>picture "Move To Niskayuna, NY".
>The N.R.H.S. bulletin, Volume 37, number 15 - page 17 picture "Loading
>The Black Maria Off The Siding At Niskayuna, NY For Trip To C.E.R".
>Special thank you to Mr. William E. Wood, VP New England Region of the
>National Railway Historical Society, for sharing his archives,
>photographs, and history notes on Engine # 1386.
>Lastly, a major thank you to Mr. Joseph D. Thompson for being the
>primary "Guardian and Savior" of Engine # 1386. Mr. Thompson work hard
>to protect, save and bring the locomotive to the Connecticut Electric
>Railway Association's Museum in Connecticut.
> > Quad/Imaging
> > A Division of Quad/Graphics
>Saratoga Springs, New York
> > www.QG.com
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