A Locomotive Named "Black Hawk"

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Black Hawk was a mystery locomotive. There were differing opinions as to the locomotive's history. In previous publications, Black Hawk was either UPRR number 6, built in 1865, or UPRR number 15, built in 1866.

New research completed in 2016 has found that Black Hawk was UPRR number 6, and later became Colorado Central number 3 in 1871. Previous histories have shown in error that Black Hawk was UPRR number 15, becoming Utah Central number 1 in 1869.

Research at the archives of the LDS Church has found a letter proving that Utah Central No. 1 was the former UPRR No. 15, and *not* the former UPRR No. 6, also known as "Black Hawk." In a letter dated October 25, 1869, from Brigham Young to C. G. Hammond, General Superintendent Union Pacific Railroad, Young specifically mentions "Engine No. 15" as the locomotive being sent by UPRR to Utah as part payment for the money owed to Brigham Young as partial payment on the Union Pacific grading contract. The locomotive was sent to Utah as part payment on the $599,460.00 owed to Young by UPRR. (Brigham Young Letterbook, Volume 11, page 842)

View the two original documents:

One major point to support Black Hawk as being UPRR 6 (and not UPRR 15) is that railfan sources do not take into account that a locomotive named Black Hawk would have been very notable in Utah, because the so-called "Black Hawk War" of 1865-1867 would have been so fresh in the community memory at the time in late 1869 when UPRR 15 became Utah Central number 1.

(Read the Wikipedia article about Utah's Black Hawk War)

In this roster of early Union Pacific locomotives, I have chosen to show UPRR 6 as being named Black Hawk, being purchased secondhand by UPRR, with that same locomotive later being sold to Colorado Central in 1871 as their number 3. This is derived from the fact that UPRR only named its first 12 locomotives, and that UPRR 15 was delivered as UPRR 21 (1st) in 1866 after the name-only era ended.

Black Hawk In Utah

Horatio Hancock, who was Union Pacific train service employee, and later a Utah Central employee, wrote in his personal history:

"I coupled the first car to the engine named Black Hawk at Ogden and was engineer on the construction train day after day as we made progress to Salt Lake. Robert Built was engineer, William Jeffs, fireman and Albert Gray brakeman. The last night before the completion of the road we came back to Ogden and stayed up part of the night decorating the engine, Black Hawk, with flags and ribbons, preparatory to the celebration January 10th. We coupled on four coaches which made up the train with Union Pacific officers and business men of Ogden on board. I was the conductor. The second train was piloted by Charles Mayard, engineer and John Leavitt, conductor. This train carried the employees who worked on the road. As soon as the road was in running order, I was the conductor on the passenger train running between Salt Lake and Ogden. Two new locomotive engines, Nos. 3 and 4 for the U. C. R. R., arrived at Ogden, Feb. 7, 1870. They were built by McQueen & Co., Schenectady, New York, at a cost of $12,000." (Horatio H. Hancock, in Our Pioneer Heritage, Volume 10, Utah Railroads)

(As a side note about Horatio Hill Hancock, he arrived in Ogden in 1863. The Ogden Brass Band, of which he was a member, played on March 8, 1869 when ground was broken for the Utah Central. According to the National Park Service he is identified as being at Promontory on May 10, 1869, and is shown in the famous "Champagne Photo" as the individual standing immediately in front of UP 119's smokestack. He is shown in the 1870 census for Weber County as being 27 years old, unmarried and employed as a farm hand. He is shown in the 1880 census for Weber County as being 37 years old, employed as a railroad baggage man, and married with four children. He is shown in the 1892 Ogden City Directory as being a baggageman employed by Southern Pacific. He is shown in the 1910 census as being 66 years old, married, and employed as a railroad brakeman, having immigrated from England in 1863. He was born in England on October 31, 1843 and died on March 25, 1925 in Ogden.)

(Photo from National Park Service document)

(Photo at Golden Spike ceremony)

This means that Black Hawk was in Ogden in September 1869 when Utah Central construction began, and again when the ceremonial trains were run to Salt Lake City on January 10, 1870. Note that Mr. Hancock does not say whether Black Hawk was either a Union Pacific engine or a Utah Central engine.

The information that Colorado Central 3 came from UPRR 6 "Black Hawk" comes from the research of Gerald M. Best in his book "Iron Horses From Promontory" published in 1969. Some confusion comes from a separate but undated handwritten roster of UP locomotives, in which Gerald Best shows Black Hawk first as UPRR 6, then crossed it out and added to the listing for UPRR 15.

(View a PDF compiled from data from G. M. Best's research)

A still earlier reference to Black Hawk comes from George Abdill's "Pacific Slope Railroads" first published in 1959. He includes two photos in which his captions identify Black Hawk as becoming Utah Central number 1. But the photos themselves do not confirm that the locomotive carried the Black Hawk name.

(View the photos from George Abdill's Pacific Slope Railroads)

One of the photos used by George Abdill was used much earlier in the February 3, 1906 issue of the Deseret Evening News, a daily newspaper published in Salt Lake City. The Deseret News states that the original photograph was in the possession of H.S. Bell, who was on board the special train. The photograph shows Utah Central number 1, and the caption gives the date and time the photo was taken, and the names of some of the people in the photo. There is no mention of the Black Hawk name.

As for Black Hawk becoming Utah Central number 1 (or not becoming Utah Central number 1), the settlement between Brigham Young and Union Pacific of the Mormon grading contract in September 1869 included rails and track components stored on the ground at Echo, along with rolling stock.

There is no mention of any locomotives in *available* newspapers during this period in late 1869. Digital newspapers of the period (July 1869-January 1870) have been examined, but there is no mention of any rolling stock, much less an engine, when the settlement of the grading is covered. Utah Central construction started on September 22, 1869, and the first operation was reported as being on the evening of Wednesday October 13. On October 14, 1869 there was a note that Brigham Young had just returned from witnessing the first locomotive operate along the first tracks of Utah Central.

As mentioned earlier, local history suggests that the name Black Hawk would have surely been mentioned as being the name on this first Utah Central locomotive, since the name Black Hawk was well known in Utah Territory at the time as being the name given to a local Ute tribal leader, and the leader of a series of attacks against local settlers, known as the "Black Hawk War".

George Pitchard found the following during his page-by-page newspaper research:

October 14, 1869
Brigham returned from Ogden last evening; while up there, he saw "...the first locomotive on the first railroad built and owned by the people of this territory..." for which purpose he apparently went up in the first place. Item reports that track is laid for about three miles beyond (i.e., west) of the Weber bridge, and is progressing at about half a mile per day. (Deseret Evening News, October 14, 1869)

(Note that the item does not mention if this first Utah Central locomotive was named "Black Hawk", or any other name.)

January 3, 1870
The Utah Central desires to hire an engine from the U.P., to assist with the work at present. The Utah Central timetable/ad from 6 December 1869, first regular schedule. From a summary of 1869 events, the following: Tracklaying on U.C. began on September 22, 1869; Completed to Kaysville on November 13, 1869; First excursion over the Utah Central was on November 21, 1869. (Deseret Evening News, January 3, 1870)

January 31, 1870
J. A. Ursenbach has painted a picture of Utah Central No. 1 on the Weber River bridge in Ogden. (Deseret Evening News, January 31, 1870)

(Note that the item does not mention if this first Utah Central locomotive was named "Black Hawk", or any other name.)

February 8, 1870
Item on the excursion, of Monday the 7th, mentions that the Utah Central excursion left Ogden at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, but makes no mention of the [new] engines arriving. (Deseret Evening News, February 8, 1870)

February 9, 1870
Paper says the new Utah Central engines, 3 and 4, cost $12,000 each. Reference is made later in the item to "the two new locomotives"; if there was a new number 2 received, neither paper mentions it. (Ogden Junction, February 9, 1870)

Black Hawk In Colorado

Hol Wagner mentions the locomotive Black Hawk in his Colorado & Southern history "The Colorado Road", discussing the history of C&S 4-4-0 number 145. He shows that C&S 145 was renumbered from Union Pacific Denver & Gulf 34, which was renumbered from UPD&G 825. Other sources show that UPD&G 825 came from Colorado Central 825, which was rebuilt from Colorado Central 3, which was renumbered from UPRR 6.

(View a PDF of compiled information from Hol Wagner's Colorado Road)

Concerning Black Hawk in Colorado -- The town of Black Hawk, Colorado, is known as the one of the oldest towns in Colorado Territory. After gold was discovered in what became known as Gregory's Gulch by John H. Gregory in 1859, a point further down the gulch where the creek flowed into the North Fork of Clear Creek, became known as Black Hawk Point. Most accounts say that the name came from an early stamp mill brought in from Illinois and named for the famous Indian chief. Because of the readily available water power to drive water wheels and the abundant water supply flowing through sluices, Black Hawk quickly became the milling center for the gold ore mined throughout what became known as Gilpin County. First by wagon, and later by train, tons of precious rock were sent to Black Hawk to extract the maximum amount of gold. Black Hawk was incoporated by an act of the territorial legislature on March 11, 1864." (City of Blackhawk, Colorado; History)

Union Pacific no. 6, supposedly named "Black Hawk," was purchased by UP in 1866, and was retired in 1871. It was then sold to Colorado Central as their number 3. It was Colorado Central that built the first railroad to the Black Hawk and Central City region of Gilpin County. In December 1872, Colorado Central completed construction of its narrow gauge line from Golden to Black Hawk, by way of Clear Creek Canyon and North Clear Creek Canyon. The locomotive would have already been on Colorado Central rails, and may have been named Black Hawk in celebration of railroad service to the mines.

Other Conclusions

Hinkley Builder Data

Some researchers show that the Black Hawk name was used for UPRR 6, and some researchers show that it was UPRR 15, both built by Hinkley & Williams in 1865-1866.

The Railway & Locomotive Historical Society in its Bulletin 142, published in 1980, included a list of all locomotives built by Hinkley & Williams. That list shows a locomotive for Union Pacific built in 1865 numbered as UPRR 6 and named Black Hawk. But the article also shows that the records of the Hinkley Locomotive Works were mostly destroyed, and that *any* listing is a reconstruction from other incomplete material. Included is a reference to three other UPRR locomotives that were likely built at about the same time. Earlier lists of Hinkley locomotives, both handwritten and typewritten, do not show these four locomotives.

(View a PDF compiled from the R&LHS Hinkley builder information)

Prince Data

Richard E. Prince was a well-known historian of early Union Pacific steam locomotives. He was able to extract information from what he noted as Union Pacific's "equipment record book A". His notes on Black Hawk show it as becoming UPRR 15 in June 1866 (and therefore Utah Central number 1).

In this case, Prince was mistaken about his conclusions.

Gordon McCulloch has been researching Union Pacific steam locomotives for 30 years. During an exchange of emails in February and April 2010, he shared the following, after reaching the conclusion that Black Hawk was UPRR 15, rather than UPRR 6:

I have been rooting around in some records and trying to justify one set with another in hopes of fixing the issues that have long existed with the used Casement engines of 1867, and in the process came across a seemingly not too important list that leads me to believe that only the [UPRR] 6 was Black Hawk, even though as you know there has been disagreement over that. (February 5, 2010)

Following a literal interpretation of Prince's record, where it is stated to have been excerpted from a 1918 transcription of 1864-1866 Boston records, I have recreated the first part of the roster based only on Prince's notes (ignoring Best's, and builder records) and sure enough UC-1, ex UP-15, was in fact Black Hawk, a small engine when compared with most others . Gerry tried his best (no pun intended) but based on something I have seriously thought about since the outset, I am now more convinced that locomotive numbering did not actually occur until early 1867. (February 8, 2010)

Only the first twelve had names, ending with the Mogul Bellevue number 12. It has always appeared to me that there was an order that was sold/diverted/cancelled in mid 1866. That is because they backfilled 13, 14 and 15, after 16, 17 and 18 were delivered. I'm wishing I could get a verification on another 6, which was filled when 13 and 14 were. There has always been information, supposedly taken from IC records, that UP bought an 1852 Rogers, Illinois Central number 3, but it never shows up anywhere. It could have been the original 6 and was vacated soon after arrival. (February 8, 2010)

After a re-examination of data and research compiled by Richard E. Prince, it appears that UPRR 19-21 (1st) were renumbered to UPRR 6, 13 and 14, rather than UPRR 13-15. This would make the secondhand locomotive named "Black Hawk" UPRR15 rather than UPRR 6, with UPRR 15 still becoming UCRR 1. (April 23, 2010)

(View the data and research compiled by Richard E. Prince)

More Information

UP Timeline, 1864-1880 -- A timeline of major events in UP history for the years 1864-1880