Model of the 1839 Steam Locomotive, Gowan & Marx

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This is a 1/2" scale model of the Gowan and Marx, a 4-4-0 freight locomotive built in 1839 for the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. The model consists of an engine with two inclinded cylinders, horizontal boiler, a domed firebox and a four wheel tender.
As trains grew longer and heavier, railroad companies needed more powerful locomotives. One way to increase power was to build machines with more driving wheels, or powered wheels. However, such locomotives had previously proved too rigid for the rough tracks of early American railroads, derailing often or damaging the track. On the Gowan and Marx, locomotive builders Eastwick and Harrison of Philadelphia introduced the equalizing lever, a spring suspension that distributed the engine’s weight over three points. In this arrangement, each of the four driving wheels could bounce independently as the engine negotiated rough track, greatly improving stability and traction. According to John H. White in American Locomotives: 1830-1880, the equalizing lever, which allowed the successful operation of engines with multiple pairs of driving wheels, “was possibly the most important American contribution to locomotive design.” Eastwick and Harrison’s equalizing lever proved so successful that it was used through the end of steam locomotive construction in the 1950s.
Steam locomotives are often classified by wheel arrangement, in the order of leading, driving, and trailing wheels. The Gowan and Marx has four leading wheels, four driving wheels, and no trailing wheels. It is therefore classified as a 4-4-0 locomotive. When compared to an earlier 4-2-0 type engine, like Baldwin’s Lancaster, the 4-4-0’s additional pair of driving wheels brought a great increase in power. Intended for slow speed, heavy coal trains, the Gowan and Marx performed extremely well; on one occasion, it pulled a 101-car train of 423 tons at an average speed of 9.8 miles per hour. After 1840, the 4-4-0 or “American type” became the most popular locomotive in the country. The exceptional performance of the Gowan and Marx greatly enhanced the reputation of Eastwick and Harrison. They were subsequently invited to Russia to build locomotives for the Moscow and St. Petersburg Railway.
Currently on loan
date made
Gowan & Marx locomotive constructed
Shawcraft (Models) Ltd.
place made
United Kingdom: England, Hillingdon, Uxbridge
Associated Place
United States: Pennsylvania
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 7 3/4 in x 4 in x 13 1/2 in; 19.685 cm x 10.16 cm x 34.29 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
Data Source
National Museum of American History


I'd love to see the coal cars it pulled.

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