William Mason's "Onward"

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This page was last updated on August 9, 2019.

[Attribution: The following is based in very large part, including numerous quotes, on Garrie Tufford's excellent article, "William Mason's ONWARD."]

Mr. William Mason of Taunton, Massachusetts had a well deserved reputation as a locomotive builder. He became very interested in the "double-bogie, double-boiler" design promoted by Englishman Robert Fairlie in which there are two swiveling trucks or "bogies," each with cylinders and driving wheels, supporting a novel arrangement of what appears to be two boilers, back-to-back, through the cab, but is actually a single boiler in which water is able to circulate freely through the whole unit. This unusual boiler, with a smokebox and stack at each end, was heated by two separate fireboxes located in the middle. The double firebox was found necessary to prevent the draft at one end from interfering with that of the other. The engineer and fireman had to work on opposite sides of the boiler in the centrally located cab. Mason completed a standard gauge locomotive on this pattern in 1870, an 0-6-6-0, named Janus.

The experience gained from building the Janus resulted in Mr. Mason's second Fairlie-type engine, the Onward, a narrow gauge 0-4-4T with 10x15-inch cylinders and 33-inch drivers. It had a more conventional single-ended boiler and only one of the "bogies" had driving wheels. Onward retained the advantages of the design -- a larger firebox, weight distribution and swiveling trucks -- while eliminating the concept of double boilers.

Onward was such a novelty that it was illustrated with an engraving and described in the Railroad Gazette of November 25, 1871 while still under construction and without a buyer. The locomotive was finished in early 1872. (Railroad Gazette, March 2, 1872) The engraving for the locomotive was prepared from a drawing, which accounts for the several significant differences that can be seen in comparing engraving in the November 1871 issue with the builder's photograph in the March 1872 issue.

(View an engraving of the locomotive, November 1871.)

(View a photo of the locomotive, March 1872.)

A second engraving of the Onward was published as part of Matthias Forney's 1874 book, Catechism of the Locomotive, and "serialized" in the Railroad Gazette. The engraving of Onward was one of five engines illustrated facing page 335 of the August 29, 1874 issue.

Why was Mason's first narrow-gauge engine, Onward, built to three-feet gauge? One factor was probably the influence of Robert Fairlie who was one of the foremost narrow gauge proponents. Another possibility, suggested by Art Wallace in his book "Mason Steam Locomotives," was that a potential purchaser of the engine could be the Denver & Rio Grande, one of the few American narrow gauge roads under construction at that time. This was not to be, and Onward's first owner was a small narrow gauge line in Utah, being built to serve smelters and mines in American Fork canyon.

Arthur Wallace provides the following information in his book, Mason Steam Locomotives. (Heimburger House Publishing; 2004; ISBN-10: 0911581553; ISBN-13: 978-0911581553)

Philip Marshall wrote the following:

Art Wallace's book devotes several pages (pp. 70-74) to Mason c/n 461. Built on speculation and originally called the Onward, she was the very first Mason Fairlie ("Mason bogie") and also Mason's first narrow gauge engine, so her construction was a significant achievement for William Mason and the Mason Machine Works.

However, I'm afraid Wallace makes no reference to any later conversion to a 0-4-2T wheel arrangement, and in fact he says very little about the engine's later history, just that the American Fork RR found the engine unsatisfactory (due to a burst exhaust pipe?) and replaced her with a new Porter in 1874, and that "Other students have made an extensive study and reported the ultimate demise of this little engine".

Frankly, I'm not sure how a Mason bogie could have functioned as a 0-4-2, since the rear truck is such an integral part of the design. (Philip Marshall, message posted to Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum, April 14, 2017)

Arthur Wallace's book published in 2004 is considered to be the final statement about the design and construction of Mason no. 461. He quotes the Railroad Gazette November 25, 1871 article, as well as discusses the reason the little locomotive was built to 36-inch gauge. He also includes drawings of the troublesome rotating joint in the steam pipe between the boiler and the swiveling drive wheel assembly. There is no mention of a possible rebuild in later years.

Possible Rebuild

It should be stressed here that various historians disagree about a possible rebuild. This disagreement comes from the shortage of documents, other than a description of the Union Pacific engine at the end of its career. No one doubts that this engine was an 0-4-4T when it was built in 1872, as shown in two engravings and a builder photo. But a question comes from the Union Pacific June 1885 equipment list, which specifically shows no. 296 as "6 Wheel," meaning an 0-4-2T, with four drive wheels and a two-wheel, single axle under the tender portion.

(View a portion of the 1885 Union Pacific equipment listing, with a description of Utah & Northern no. 296)

From this description, there has been much speculation.

Art Wallace made the following note in 1975 while visiting John Lozier and being invited to study and transcribe his Mason source materials: "The 1185 evaluation drawing of the U.P. Valuation Dept. files describes an engine similar to Onward. One axle tender, 34" drivers , five-foot driver centers, 11x15 cylinders, built by Mason." Garrie Tufford concluded that this description fits the Onward very well, except for the "one axle tender" compared to the earlier "two-axle" tender. Dr. Lozier's material would be a secondary source, and Mr. Wallace's transcribed note would be a tertiary source. While attempting to locate the original drawing as a primary source, Garrie Tufford found that the drawing was among steam locomotives drawings destroyed in 1964. (Garrie Tufford letter to Don Strack dated May 6, 2017)

John Lozier was researching his 1978 dissertation (published in 1986 as a book), "Taunton and Mason - Cotton Machinery and Locomotive Manufacture in Taunton, Massachusetts 1811-1861." Because his time period of research was the 50 year span from 1811 to 1861, Lozier's work does not specifically mention Mason's "Onward," built in 1872.

Brian Norden wrote: "Garrie Tufford believes that the locomotive was rebuilt, but does not know if in Nevada or by the Union Pacific. The rebuild was probably to remove the one weak point in the Mason Bogie design -- the combined swivel for connecting the power truck to the boiler and supplying the steam to the power truck (engine). This component went though many modifications during the first years of Mason Bogie production. Prior to the "Onward," Mason had constructed just one standard-gauge, double-truck, double-boiler Fairlie. The "Onward" was Mason's first "Bogie" type -- a prototype that needed design improvement." (Brian Norden, message posted to Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum, April 15, 2017)

Garrie Tufford wrote: "The Onward was a troublesome locomotive its entire life. Broken castings, leaky boiler probably through the center pivot certainly had the shop people wondering how it could be fixed. Those old shop guys were pretty sharp and certainly knew a bit about steam. The most plausible answer several of us, including Art Wallace, came up with is the engine was "rigidized" in some fashion to control the leak and other issues. The rear truck was added as a trailing truck and no longer swiveled either. Now there existed a somewhat straight forward 0-4-2 that was no longer a "bogie" locomotive. As a switch engine it would have served quite well with this configuration." (Garrie Tufford letter to Don Strack dated April 14, 2017)

Comparing the earlier description of the Onward, with the 1885 Union Pacific description of no. 296, Philip Marshall wrote:

I notice that the engine in question [no. 296] is shown as having 11 x 15" cylinders and 34" drivers, a 35" diameter boiler with 78 flues, a total engine weight of 29,900 lbs., and an overall length of 31' 6", whereas Wallace lists Mason c/n 461 as having been built with 10 x 15" cylinders and 33" drivers, a 36" diameter boiler with 81 flues, a total engine weight of 24,000 lbs., and an overall length of 29' 6". Are we sure this is a the same engine? If it is the same then it has to have been massively rebuilt. (Philip Marshall, message posted to Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum, April 14, 2017)

The different number of flues between the 81 flues shown in the earlier as-built description, and 78 flues shown in the 1885 Union Pacific description might be explained by the flues being removed as part of the rebuild that changed the drive wheels from the pivoting "bogie" design, to a rigid design. The reduced heating surface (i.e., steaming capacity, and therefore reduced power) from the missing flues would not have been an issue with the locomotive being assigned as a yard switcher at Spring Hill (Lima), Montana. (Garrie Tufford letter to Don Strack dated May 6, 2017)

The following comes from "Utah & Northern, The Narrow Gauge That Opened A Frontier" by Mallory Hope Ferrell, published in Colorado Rail Annual No. 15, Idaho -Montana Issue, 1981, page 69

1878 No. 45
1885 No. 296
Type 0-4-2T
Builder Mason
C/N 461
Date 7/1872
Notes Orig. American Fork RR #1, sold 1873;
rebuilt from 0-4-4T to 0-4-2T;
scrapped by 1887. See Note B.

Note B: This locomotive was the first Mason Forney-type constructed, built to 3 foot gauge in 1871 on speculation; sold in April 1872 to the American Fork RR (and named Onward), being shipped in July 1872. Found unsatisfactory, a Porter 0-6-0 was obtained as replacement and the Mason taken out of service (perhaps as early as 1873); it was said to have been stored at Sandy, Utah, for some time. At some point it found its way into the UP system, and was further rebuilt (into a 3 foot gauge 0-4-2T). This may be the same "dinky engine" said to have been rebuilt at the Omaha Shops in 1883 into DSP&P #75 and used as a switch engine briefly in 1883-84 on the South Park, before its appearance in 1885 on the Utah & Northern. (Ferrell provides acknowledgements and bibliography for his excellent history of Utah & Northern, but no documents about the rebuild of no. 296. He shows, in error, the locomotive's gauge being 3 feet, 2 inches, with further modifications.)

American Fork Railroad, 1872-1873

(Read more about the American Fork Railroad, 1872-1878)

American Fork Railroad no. 1 began life as a sort of demonstrator, the first locomotive built by Mason on the single-boiler Fairlie design now so well-known as the "Mason Bogie" locomotive, built in late 1871 to early 1872 with no specific purchaser in mind, simply to demonstrate the principals involved. In April of 1872, it was sold (with an order for a twin) to the American Fork Railroad, to which it was shipped on July 1, 1872, being assigned shop number 461 at that time. It was numbered American Fork Railroad no. 1, and named "American Fork" as well. This locomotive being rather light, it was not exactly a stunning success on a railroad having grades of 296 feet per mile (nearly 6 percent), and was offered for sale in April 1873 before the commencement of the railroad's second season of operations. The locomotive was not sold until late in 1873, probably December, to the organizers of the Eureka & Palisade Railroad, in Nevada.

This Utah road was built from American Fork City up American Fork canyon to serve the mines of the Miller Mining Co., and was built using a gauge of three-feet, although Poor's Railroad Manual, 1875 to 1878, made the error of stating the gauge was three-feet, six inches. (Unfortunately, this error was repeated in a couple 20th century railfan publications, based on this 19th century error.)

The Railroad Gazette reported on May 4, 1872, that "Mr. William Mason of Taunton, Mass., has recently concluded a contract with Mr. Edmund Wilkes, the General Manager of the [American Fork] company, for the construction for this road of two single-boiler Fairlie locomotives."

When Major Wilkes of the American Fork Railroad went shopping for equipment, somehow he came across this odd engine, and bought it, ordering a second one at the same time. The order is in the Mason records, and is signed by Edmund Wilkes for the American Fork Railroad. The Mason works refurbished the engine, repainting it to American Fork No. 1, applied "American Fork" as its new name, assigned construction number 461 to the engine, and shipped it west on July, 1, 1872. Fred Shalling, who was in charge of erecting the Onward at the Mason Works, accompanied it to Utah.

The locomotive arrived in Salt Lake City on the morning of July 17, 1872, the first narrow gauge locomotive seen in Salt Lake City, and the second in Utah. It was described as American Fork Railroad No. 1, American Fork, "a handsome locomotive, constructed on the Fairlie principle, and the second of the kind built in the United States."

The Mason record for this locomotive says that it was three-feet gauge. Other specifications given for 'Locomotive No. 461' were: cylinders, 10" x 15"; drivers, four, 33" diameter; the wheelbase of the engine unit, 5'0"; wheelbase of the entire engine, 20'0"; tank truck wheels, 30" diameter; and the tank was 9'6" long, 2'8" high, and 5'6" wide

The engine stayed some days in Salt Lake City, and then was taken down the Utah Southern as far as that road was completed. It left Salt Lake on July 22nd for its new home at American Fork. (Deseret Evening News, July 17, 1872; Salt Lake Herald, July 21, 1872)

The engine could travel by rail only as far as the southern terminus of the Utah Southern Railroad near Draperville where the engine was unloaded from the standard gauge cars and put "on a temporary track laid down in sections for the purpose." (Salt Lake Herald, August 6, 1872)

Moving the engine in this way for about 17 miles took several weeks, and finally, by August 20th, it reached American Fork City when it was steamed up for the first time in Utah. (Salt Lake Herald, August 23, 1872) There was about eight miles of track completed at that date. (Salt Lake Herald, August 21, 1872; Utah Mining Journal, August 26, 1872)

Various reports give glowing accounts of the Onward's performance. The Salt Lake Herald of September 1, 1872, describing it at work on the American Fork Railroad, reported "the locomotive has been successfully run over the heaviest grade on the road, 296 feet to the mile, at the rate of twelve miles per hour and carrying forty tons," and the Utah Mining Journal of September 3, 1872 referred to it as an "infant monster," and that "five loaded cars are drawn up easily, though of course not at lightning speed."

Only two months after being put in service the American Fork had one of its first problems "in the bursting of an exhaust pipe" on October 25th. The Deseret Evening News reporting this accident also noted that an engine of "greater power appears to be requisite" (Deseret Evening News newspaper, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 28, 1872)

The American Fork was quickly repaired and returned to service. Several mentions were made in the Utah Mining Journal of additional locomotives that were supposed to have been ordered and "expected daily," but no arrivals are reported. (Utah Mining Journal, September, 1, 1872; October 22, 1872; December 2, 1872)

The Railroad Gazette of March 29, 1873, page 129, quoting a letter from Mr. Mason in which he discusses his "Fairlie" engine, the Onward, at work on the American Fork Railroad, also gives the information "that he has revised his patterns and has another nearly ready for the same road." This new locomotive, of almost the same design as the Onward, was the third engine of this size that Mason built, but the American Fork road apparently canceled its order for a second engine, likely due to the unsatisfactory performance of the first engine. It was sold instead to the North & South of Georgia, where it did not stay for very long, and was finally sold to the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn as its Orion. The improvements apparently worked on the third engine. The Orion, built in August 1873 with Mason construction number 508, was operating out of Boston, Massachusetts, on the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad. It was reported as riding hard at high speed, but capable of making 15 miles an hour with six cars of passengers.

The American Fork Railroad rather quickly decided that the American Fork was not suitable, and advertised it for sale in April 1873. (Salt Lake Herald, April 17, 1873)

It had not yet been sold by September when an item in the Utah Mining Gazette asked "Can you tell me the reason why the American Fork railroad is run by horse power, with the locomotive laid up. Is it owing to defects in the engine, or is there not sufficient traffic for steam power? According to the published reports when the engine first arrived, it mounted the heaviest grades with ease, if so then, why not now?" (Utah Mining Gazette, September 13, 1873)

The American Fork Mason engine was sold to Eureka & Palisade Railroad in December 1873 or January 1874, as E&P no. 1, originally named "Eureka".

Eureka & Palisade Railroad, 1873-1879

The financial panic that began in September 1873, created havoc for just about all railroad construction schemes. But Nevada's Eureka & Palisade Railroad, after several false starts, finally began construction in late November 1873. Jack Gilmer and Monroe Salisbury, well-known stage operators, had bought the franchise to build a railroad from Elko to Hamilton in January, and joined with Erastus Woodruff and William Ennors, of the other major Nevada stage company, in November to build the line from Palisade to Eureka instead. Construction was started immediately with the first ground moved on the 25th and the first spike was driven on Monday, February 2, 1874. By this time William L. Pritchard, the freighter, had also obtained an interest in the E. & P. (Eureka Daily Sentinel newspaper, Eureka, Nevada, January 4, 1873; November 24, 1873; November 28, 1873; January 9, 1874; January 11, 1874; February 7, 1874; June 23, 1874)

The Eureka Sentinel reported in late December 1873 that "Twenty miles of iron is in San Francisco and negotiations are pending with one of the Narrow-Gauge companies of Utah for twenty more, including also a locomotive and several freight cars" and by the end of the month "a narrow gauge locomotive has already reached Palisade." (Eureka Daily Sentinel, December 24, 1873; December 30, 1873)

The Eureka & Palisade's first locomotive was named the Eureka, and was in the Central Pacific shops at Carlin for several weeks where "it [had] been undergoing repairs and been repainted." (Eureka Daily Sentinel, January 30, 1874; February 14, 1874; February 18, 1874)

After passing through the Central Pacific's shops at Carlin for refurbishing and repainting, this engine appears on the Eureka & Palisade in early 1874 as that road's No. 1, named "Eureka." In 1875, upon the arrival of a new Baldwin 4-4-0, also named 'Eureka', which still exists, the Mason appears to have been renamed "Onward," possibly as a result of someone having discovered the name under several layers of paint on the engine. from its early days as a Mason demonstration locomotive.

Severe winter storms prevented work on the roadbed and track from progressing very fast, and the engine's appearance in Palisade was delayed until April 18th when it arrived and was put on the track ready for work. The first run was made the same day with five flat cars over the first mile of track. (Eureka Daily Sentinel, April 19, 1874)

A lucky break for the historian occurred in 1875 when a steam delivery "T-pipe" broke on one of the road's engines. In order to make the necessary repairs a new casting was required, and the Central Pacific Railroad made this part. The original C. P. "pattern" drawing (C.P.R.R. #1497) has survived and is now in the California State Railroad Museum at Sacramento. Very helpful, of course, is that the drawing's caption identifies it as a "Mason Eng." and that it was a "Fairlee." Even more fortuitous for the historian is that the broken part was rather unusual and it can be demonstrated to be unique: This part could only have been used on Mr. Mason's Onward.

Kyle Wyatt, of the Nevada State Railroad Museum, wrote to George Pitchard on February 25, 1993, "I recently went through some original Central Pacific drawings at the California State Railroad Museum. Drawing #1497, dated June 8, 1875, is labeled as a "T-pipe for Mason Eng.", used on "Fairlee (sic) Eng. for Palasade (sic) RR" and matches "pattern No. 3074." I consider this fairly conclusive proof showing that a Mason Fairlie operated on the E&P, and probably was E&P #1."

The Central Pacific drawing of the "T-pipe" part was compared to one of Mason's original "Onward" drawings in the Mason Machine Works collection at the Museum of American Textile History in North Andover, Massachusetts, and shows a part identical to the one made by the Central Pacific for the "Palasade R.R." engine.

The uniqueness of the part means that Mr. Mason's Onward was now on the Eureka & Palisade with yet another name, the Eureka, having been purchased from the American Fork Railroad. All of the other E. & P. locomotives beginning with no. 2, the W. L. Pritchard, can be accounted for except no. 1, the Eureka. This, then, was the locomotive that arrived in late December 1873, and which had built the first several miles of the E. & P.

Eureka celebrated the arrival of the railroad on October 22, 1875. The Sentinel of the 23rd, giving an account of the previous day's events, notes that a passenger train headed by the "Tybo" and a freight pulled by the "Onward" were the main railroad attraction as the trains pulled into town over the newly laid track, followed by the orations of the day. (Eureka Daily Sentinel, October 23, 1875) Gilbert Kneiss's 1941 account of the celebration was, without question, based on this article.

When the Eureka & Palisade was completed to Eureka, there were four locomotives on the road, including a new Baldwin Mogul No. 4 that was also named Eureka. With a second Eureka and locomotives named Tybo and Onward, it appears the E. & P. had renamed (but did not renumber) its locomotives, probably early in 1875. It is known that no. 2, W. L. Pritchard, was renamed Tybo. It is not known if no. 1, the first Eureka, or no. 3, another Baldwin Mogul, became the "new" Onward.

Nevada Central Railway, 1879-1882

Eureka & Palisade No. 1 was sold in October 1879 to the Nevada Central Railway (which was being built at the time) as its No. 2, named "Austin." In mid-1881 Nevada Central No. 2 was renumbered to 2nd No. 3, on account of the arrival of a new Mogul No. 2 from Baldwin. While it may have retained its name "Austin" as the new No. 3, it seems most frequently to be referred to as the "Dinkey" in this period.

Construction of a railroad from Battle Mountain to Austin, Nevada, was begun September 1, 1879, after several years of trying to attract investors to such a project. Bonds had been authorized by the Nevada Legislature in 1875 to aid a railroad but stipulated that in order to collect them the road would have to be completed to Austin by February 9th, 1880. This was not much time to build a ninety-mile railroad, although the promoters were optimistically saying that it would be completed by December 31st. With such a short period of time to build the road, it is not surprising that the contractors searched for and bought whatever equipment and supplies were readily available with the result that the road's first five locomotives were all used. (Reese River Reveille newspaper, Austin, Nevada, September 1, 1879; The Silver State newspaper, Winnemucca, Nevada, September 3, 1879)

The first two locomotives "arrived" in Battle Mountain about the same time, possibly the same day, in early October. Because both came from points east of Battle Mountain, the several newspaper accounts are not always clear about which engine was being referred to, and there is some uncertainty about the specifically engine being reported on.

The Reese River Reveille on September 24, 1879 makes the first mention of a locomotive with the report that "an engine will arrive from the East this week," and a few days later the Winnemucca Silver State of September 26, 1879 commented that "a locomotive and cars are expected from the East in a week or two." Progress of the expected "train" was reported with "twenty cars and a locomotive, for the Nevada Central Railway, passed Cheyenne several days ago, and are about due at Battle Mountain." (Reese River Reveille, October 3, 1879; Eureka Daily Leader, October 7, 1879)

At last, the Silver State of Monday, October 6th, quotes the superintendent of construction, R. M. Steele, "that an engine and 20 cars ... arrived at Battle Mountain last Saturday [the 4th]" (The Silver State, October 6, 1879)

One of the locomotives that arrived from the east was the former Bath & Hammondsport Railroad no. 2, named "Jonathan Robie," which had been reported by the Hammondsport Herald newspaper of September 24, 1879 as being "sold to a western party." It had been built by Brooks in February 1873, and held Brooks construction number 167. Upon arrival at on the Nevada Central, it was given number 1, and named as "Battle Mountain." The Brooks engine was not put to work right away, but several weeks later when it was reported "there will be ... put on next week ... another engine and train of cars" (Hammondsport Herald newspaper, September 24, 1879; Battle Mountain Messenger newspaper, Battle Mountain, Nevada, October 25, 1879)

A different locomotive, named the Austin, is the first to be reported "on the track" at Battle Mountain on Monday, October 6th. The locomotive was first steamed up on October 7th. (Reese River Reveille, October 4, 1879; October 6, 1879; Battle Mountain Messenger, October 4, 1879; October 11, 1879)

The Silver State newspaper of November 11, 1879 noted that the Nevada Central "have two locomotives, one of which was purchased from the Eureka and Palisade Company, whose agents had it fitted up to sell. The boiler of this engine leaks badly when it is cold and to prevent the water from running out it has to be kept under a full head of steam day and night."

The Austin's stay on the Nevada Central, as well as the road's other locomotives, is fairly well documented. It was decided quite early that the first two locomotives would be relegated to "switching" service at their namesake towns. After construction was completed several of the engines were overhauled, including the Austin, and the Battle Mountain Messenger reported that "Number two, commonly called 'the dinky,' has been turned out of the shop almost as good as new and looks as if it could build another railroad or two, before being converted into old iron. (This is the engine that has been used in the construction of three railroads)" More than once the Austin, aka "Dinky", was noted as hauling the passenger train.

The Nevada Central ordered two new Baldwin Moguls that were to be numbered second no. 1 and no. 2, and in turn sold first no. 1 and no. 3 to the Utah Eastern, retaining no. 2, the Onward. (Battle Mountain Messenger, October 30, 1880; November 13, 1880; Reese River Reveille, November 1, 1880)

The new Baldwin Mogul engines did not arrive until June and July of 1881 (Reese River Reveille, June 9, 1881; Battle Mountain Messenger, July 27, 1881). By this time other changes had come to the Nevada Central with the Union Pacific acquiring control of the road. (Reese River Reveille, June 7, 1881; Battle Mountain Messenger, June 18, 1881)

The Austin was put in the shop when the new Moguls arrived and the Messenger carried this item: "The Dinkey [sic] is being thoroughly overhauled at the shops and in the course of a few weeks will be doing good work again. In connection with its repairs we noticed a nice piece of iron doctoring the other day. One of the steam chests had been so badly broken that when laid on the floor it looked like a chinese puzzle, and was by many considered to be beyond repair, yet, the different pieces were banded and riveted together so neatly and compactly that it is now as serviceable as ever." (Battle Mountain Messenger, July 16, 1881) It was also during this overhaul that the Austin emerged from the shop with a new number, as the second no. 3 (Lander Free Press newspaper, Battle Mountain, Nevada, August 12, 1881; Battle Mountain Messenger, August 13, 1881)

In December 1882, "The Dinky," was shipped back to Utah (but apparently not sold) for use on the Utah & Northern Railway (Lander Free Press, December 22, 1882)

Nevada Central Ry. 2nd No. 3 was transferred to Utah & Northern Railway in December 1882, to be used 'temporarily' (according to the journal entry), but which was retained, and assigned U & N No. 45. The freight charge of $132.93 is charged to the Utah & Northern's equipment account in December 1882. In 1885, this engine was renumbered to U&N No. 296, with the system roster of June 1, 1885 showing the engine as having 11x15" cylinders, 34" drivers, and engine weight of 29,900 pounds As No. 296, this engine was declared vacant in May 1886, and scrapped.

Utah & Northern Railway, 1882-end

(Read more about the Utah & Northern Railway, 1878-1889)

By January 1883, the Utah & Northern Railway was a major Union Pacific branch line extending from Ogden, Utah to Butte, Montana. The track also extended slightly farther north to a connection with the Northern Pacific at Garrison. This line needed considerable motive power and several locomotives were moved to it from other U. P. narrow gauge roads.

The arrival of "Three locomotives from the Nevada Central" for the U. & N. was reported in the Utah papers, with the Ogden paper noting they would "be used as switch engines at different stations along the line." (Ogden Daily Herald, January 10, 1883; Salt Lake Tribune, January 11, 1883)

While one locomotive is known to have been shipped from the Nevada Central, the other two may have come from other Union Pacific narrow gauge lines. This is corroborated by some 1885 Union Pacific correspondence and reports. Assistant Auditor George W. Hall was sent to Battle Mountain January 1st, 1885, by General Manager S. R. Callaway to examine the Nevada Central records while it was under Union Pacific control. Hall's Report of January 25th notes that "one of the Locomotives belonging to the Nevada Central Rwy. Co. was by order of Mr. S. H. H. Clarke [sic], former Gen'l Manager of the Union Pacific Rwy. Co. shipped to the Utah Northern Rw'y, and I understand is in use on that road. The Nevada Central has never received any credit for the service of its locomotive." Sidney Dillon, former U. P. president, writing to President Charles Adams March 16, 1885, in response to a query about the Nevada Central engine, says "It has heretofore been customary to place the machinery on our different roads ... where it would be the most available and the greatest benefit to the whole system.... I knew at the time that there was a change of machinery proposed, between the Nevada Central and Utah & Northern roads and told Mr. Clark to do what he thought best in the matter."

According to the Union Pacific's 1885 roster, engine no. 296, which was old Utah & Northern no. 45, was a Mason engine with the same dimensions as Mr. Mason's Onward. The Utah & Northern apparently considered the Nevada Central's "Dinky" its own, and immediately assigned it no. 45, because very soon after its arrival on the U. & N. it had found its way to Spring Hill, Montana, a division point 300 miles north of Ogden where a no. 45 was duly recorded in an old oil record book as having been lubricated before the end of December 1882. If the "Dinky" was to be used as a switch engine on the U. & N., Spring Hill would have been one of the possible places for it to be assigned.

Spring Hill was where the Utah & Northern rail line met the Red Rock River, approximately 294 miles north of Ogden. According to the book "Montana Place Names" published in 2009, Spring Hill was renamed Lima in 1889. Lima, Montana, at 6,258 feet elevation, was a division point on the Utah & Northern and later OSL&UN and OSLRR, from 1880 to 1976. Train crews worked north to Silver Bow, and south to Pocatello. Lima was a helper terminal with an original eight-stall roundhouse built in 1893. It was replaced by a 12-stall all-brick roundhouse in 1903. (For more information about Lima, including photos and track diagram, see pages 144-148 of Thorton Waite's Union Pacific: Montana Division book, published in 1998.)

Unfortunately, Onward's end is not precisely known. While it appears in the 1885 roster, the little locomotive was not shown in the inventory of the Union Pacific's locomotives as of September 1, 1887. This 1887 report was made in connection with the U.S. Pacific Railway Commission's investigation of the Union Pacific. However, this same 1887 inventory admits to covering only 60 percent of the Union Pacific motive power, so no. 296 could easily have been still in service, or at least in existence.

"In the interval between May 27 and the 16th of September, more than 60 per cent of the locomotives of the Union Pacific system were carefully examined, noting their general condition and the condition of their principal parts, also the date of their construction and the names of the manufacturers." "It was impracticable within the limited time to make similar inspection of all the locomotives of the system, but enough were inspected to enable a comparison with the regular monthly report which is made to the general manager of the company of the condition of the motive power." ("Statement of the Condition of the Motive Power of the Union Pacific Railway System on September 1, 1887," Testimony Taken By the United States Pacific Railway Commission, Volume VIII, Ex. Doc 51, Part 9, page 4470; available via Google Books)

Union Pacific's June 1, 1885 listing of "Locomotives, Snow Plows, Flangers and Passenger and Freight Car Equipment" shows U&N 296 as a member of the "Odd" class, in the number series of 290-299, while the South Park 2-6-6-T locomotives of the similar Mason "Bogie" design were classed as Class D Mogul, and the South Park 2-8-6T Mason locomotives were classed as Class E Consolidation, the rear (or tank) truck not being considered in determining classification.

George Pitchard's research using Union Pacific annual reports found that no. 296 had been retired "vacated" by Union Pacific and "dropped from equipment" in May 1886. Due to its small size and age, it was likely scrapped at that time.


Wallace, Arthur W., Mason Steam Locomotives, Heimburger House Publishing; 2004; ISBN-10: 0911581553; ISBN-13: 978-0911581553

Pitchard, George E., "A Utah Railroad Scrapbook", Salt Lake City, Utah, September 1987, with updates in March 1988, November 1989, and November 2003.

Tufford, Garrie L., "William Mason's Onward", in Western Railroader, October/November 1998 issue, number 627; special insert titled "For the Historian," with additional plates from Matthias Forney's Catechism of the Locomotive. The Western Railroader is published monthly by the Pacific Coast Chapter, Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, Inc., San Francisco and Sacramento.

Tufford's sources include the following:

Baldwin Locomotive Works, Register of Engines Made by M. Baird & Co. (Burnham, Parry, Williams & Co.), volume 2, Nos. 1-5980 (1833-1881), Philadelphia, Pa., MS #157, National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

Central Pacific Railroad Company collection, California State Railroad Museum Library, Sacramento, California.

Haggerty, George A. (1928), [Recollections of George Haggerty putting Mason locomotives into service], ed. by Charles E. Fisher, Railway and Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin, No. 17, October, 1928, pages 29-38.

Hauck, Cornelius W. (1983), Early Narrow Gauge Locomotives in the West, Railroad History, Railway & Locomotive Historical Society Bulletin, No. 149, pages 51-69.

Hammondsport Herald newspaper, Hammondsport, New York.

Lander Free Press newspaper, Battle Mountain, Nevada.

Mason Machine Works, (undated) Construction list compiled by S. R. Wood.

Morgan, Richard Price, Jr. (1888), Report on the Union Pacific Railroad and Its Branches ... October 15, 1887, in Report of the U. S. Pacific Railway Commission, Senate Executive Documents (2505-2509), 50th Congress, First Session, p. 4435-4507.

Myrick, David F. (1962), Railroads of Nevada, 2 volumes, Howell-North Books, Berkeley, California, 933 pages.

Pitchard, George E. (1987), A Utah Railroad Scrapbook, privately distributed manuscript, Salt Lake City, Utah, 306 pages.

Poor, Henry V. (1872-1882), Manual of the Railroads of the United States for [year], H. V. & H. W. Poor, New York. [various issues]

Reeder, Clarence A. Jr. (1970), The History of Utah's Railroads 1869-1883, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 459 pages.

Union Pacific Railway Company (1885), Locomotives, Snow Plows, Flangers and Passenger and Freight Car Equipment, Omaha Nebraska, June 1, 1885. [Reprinted by James L. Ehernberger, Cheyenne, Wyoming, 1989.]

Union Pacific Railway Company, Nevada Central files, MS 3761, Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Utah & Northern Railway Company (undated), "Record of locomotives that received engine oil, lard oil, lamp oil and tallow between August and December 1882, at Spring Hill Montana," privately owned manuscript of W. C. Kelly, Pocatello, Idaho (courtesy of James Ehernberger).