The Arabian

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Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
Locomotive Arabian
October 16, 1888

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The Arabian with its coach running on the High Street horsecar tracks in front of the Ohio State House.  The plan was to operate the locomotive from Union Depot to the Court House on South High Street.  Its handlers couldn’t get it across the State Street switches.  It had to return to Union Depot without making the full trip as planned.

Photo from the Columbus Metropolitan Library Collection.

         1888 was the Ohio Centennial Celebration of the first settlement in Ohio (at Marietta). The celebration was held from September 4 through October 19 with different organizations having their day in the spotlight. The Grand Army of the Republic’s encampment and celebration lasted 5 days.
         The railroad brotherhoods had a special day, October 16, 1888, celebrated with a parade and the visit by the B&O locomotive Arabian.
         The Arabian one of the earliest B&O locomotives was built in 1834. Its design is referred to as a “grasshopper” due to the configuration of the piston rods perched on top of the locomotive.
         The newspaper article found at the bottom of the page tells of the trials and tribulations of trying to operate the locomotive and its coach on the High Street horse car line.

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The B&O’s Arabian is back home in Baltimore.  Unfortunately the locomotive was eventually scrapped.

Photo from B&O Power, page 18, by L.W. Sagle, Edited and Published by A.F. Staufer, 1964.


Excerpted from the Columbus Dispatch article, October 16, 1888   The novel feature of the parade was the running of an engine and passenger coach from the depot to State street, on the street railway tracks. The programme contemplated the running of the train to the Court House, but this had to be abandoned, as it was found impossible to get the engine over the automatic switch at the intersection of the Oak and High street lines at State. The engine used was the “Arabian,” owned by the B. & O. road, and built by Phineas Davis in 1834. It is the oldest now in existence, and, compared with the ponderous machines of the present time, is a crude piece of mechanism. The intention was to haul two coaches – a Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis baggage car and an old J., M. & L. combination passenger and baggage car. Owing to unfavorable circumstances this could not be done, and only the latter car was coupled up.
         The engine and cars were placed on the track about twelve o’clock last night. Before this was done, it was necessary to widen the gauge of the engine five and a half inches so that it would conform to the gauge of the street railway track. This caused the driving wheels to bind against the driving boxes, making it almost impossible for the engine to run. This caused most of the trouble along the route and accounts for leaving one of the coaches behind.

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