Jupiter, Steam Locomotive

Jupiter, Steam Locomotive

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The “Jupiter” steam locomotive was built in August of 1876 by the Baldwin Locomotive Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The locomotive was commissioned by the Santa Cruz Railroad in California for light freight and passenger service in the agricultural region between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. The Santa Cruz Railroad was built to "narrow gauge" of 36-inch width, instead of the more-common "standard" gauge of 56-1/2 inches. The idea of narrow gauge was that it would reduce construction costs in the railroad-building mania of America's post-Civil War era, where miles of rails were built so quickly that tracks were often necessarily cheap and uneven tracks. This necessitated the "American" type engine that included four small steering wheels in front and four larger driving wheels in the back (commonly called a "4-4-0" layout). The four rear driving wheels have an “equalized” spring suspension, so that as the wheels on each side rock differentially up-and-down over uneven track, the weight borne by each of the wheels stays very close to equal.
The Santa Cruz Railroad used the Jupiter until 1883, when it was sold to the International Railway of Central America (IRCA), a United Fruit Company subsidiary. Jupiter was used on the IRCA's Ocos Branch rail line in northwestern Guatemala—hauling mostly bananas and some coffee, with few passengers. In the 1960s D.C. Transit owner O. Roy Chalk bought an interest in the successor to the IRCA and shipped the battered and derelict Jupiter from Guatemala up to Washington, D.C., where it made its home in a children's park he built at 7th & O Streets. Smithsonian curator John H. White, Jr. persuaded Mr. Chalk to donate the locomotive to the Smithsonian for its Bicentennial Exhibition in 1976, where Smithsonian staff then restored Jupiter to its present state.
Object Name
locomotive, full size
Other Terms
Locomotive; Rail; Locomotive
Date made
associated dates
1974 / 1974
1876 / 1876
1885 / 1885
1904 / 1904
Guatemala Central Railroad
International Railways of Central America
Santa Cruz Railroad
United Fruit Company
Baldwin Locomotive Works
Place Made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
United States: California
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
O. Roy Clark
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
America on the Move
America On The Move
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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