Hempfield Railroad; coverlet; Figured and Fancy; double-cloth; c. 1851; Pennsylvania or West Virginia

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An unidentified weaver wove this blue and white, Figured and Fancy, double cloth coverlet. The centerfield design features oak leaf and flower, sprig and floral, foliate swag, and leaf carpet medallions. All four of the borders depict the No. 240 engine and coal car being operated by the engineer. The cornerblocks depict four profile portraits of M. T. McKennon, the first president of the railroad. He is surrounded by the woven inscription, “Hemfield Railroad.” The Hempfield Railroad was began in 1851 and designed to connect Wheeling, Virginia (current West Virginia) to Washington, Pennsylvania. Construction was not complete until 1857 and the railroad operated until 1871 when it was sold to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It is not clear if these coverlets were used on the passenger cars or sold to subscribers. The railroad was initially funded through subscription, and it is possible that these coverlets were made to help facilitate that process or just to commemorate the arrival of the railroad. The coverlet was likely made c. 1851 either in Wheeling or Western Pennsylvania. The railroad operated three locomotive engines, six freight and passenger cars, and eleven coal cars.
Currently not on view
date made
c. 1851
place made
United States: West Virginia, Wheeling
Physical Description
cotton, wool (overall material)
blue, white (overall color)
Figured and Fancy (overall production method/technique)
double cloth (overall production method/technique)
overall: 86 in x 70 in; 218.44 cm x 177.8 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. Harrison W. Smith
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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