Joseph D. Lovell Pennsylvania Railroad System locomotive rosters
Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library
PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
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Lovell collaborated with a number of early rail enthusiasts, including three fellow Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) employees: Bruce B. Watson (d. 1958), an inspector in the Test Department; Allen O. Geertz (d. 1950), another inspector and fuel engineer; and William McKinley Keller (1901-1974), who rose to the position of Mechanical Engineer. He also corresponded with Paul T. Warner, an employee of the Baldwin Locomotive Works and the author of many historical articles for Baldwin.
Lovell’s all-time roster was written in pencil in engineer’s block lettering and bound in ten report binders as follows:
No. 1 Locomotives of Subsidiary Lines – The PRR – East of Pittsburgh.
No. 2 Locomotives of Subsidiary Lines – The PRR – West of Pittsburgh.
No. 3 Locomotive Register – Lines East of Pittsburgh.
No. 4 Locomotive Register – PCC&St.L – Lines West of Pittsburgh.
No. 5 List of Locomotives Built at Altoona Machine Shop.
No. 6 PRR Locomotives – Nos. 1-1000.
No. 7 PRR Locomotives – Nos. 1001-2600.
No. 8 PRR Locomotives – Nos. 2601-4999.
No. 9 PRR Locomotives – Nos. 5000-6999.
No. 10 PRR Locomotives – Nos. 7000-9000.
Lovell turned over the binders to Al Geertz sometime shortly after their preparation in 1946, presumably with the understanding that Geertz and his other friends would keep them up to date. After Geertz’s death in 1950, the binders passed into the hands of William McKinley Keller, who in turn presented them to the PRR’s General Office Library in 1953. Their subsequent history is obscure. With the closure of the PRR Library in the 1960s, they were apparently donated to the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) Library of the Bureau of Railway Economics in Washington, D.C., then one of the finest assemblages of historical railroad publications in the country.
In 1966, the binders were borrowed by Smithsonian Curator and locomotive expert John H. White, Jr., who had them microfilmed and returned the originals to the AAR. Another locomotive historian, William D. Edson, used the originals to prepare his Keystone Steam and Electric (1974), and apparently used a print of the Smithsonian copy to produce his unpublished PRR roster, of which he sold photocopies to individuals by special purchase. In 1984, the National Railway Historical Society published Pennsylvania Railroad Altoona Shop Construction Number List, 1866-1904, which is apparently an edited and annotated version of binder No. 5.
Beginning in the 1970s and particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, the AAR Library was dismantled by a series of deaccessioning waves, with some materials being returned to the companies or organizations that originally donated them and some being given to other libraries. The residue of the collection eventually found a home at the John W. Barriger Library in St. Louis, but the original Lovell binders have disappeared.
However, Binders No. 1, 2, and 5 existed in duplicate, with the second copies being held by the Research Group in the Mechanical Engineer’s office. At least Binders No. 1 and 2 passed into the possession of William McKinley Keller, and he in turn gave them to Robert B. Watson, the son of Bruce B. Watson and also a PRR mechanical engineer. Watson donated them to the Hagley Museum and Library in 2006.
Bruce B. Watson had also inherited the bulk of Al Geertz’s notes and photograph collection in 1950. Most of this material was kept in a large wooden box in the PRR Test Department offices at Altoona, but was regrettably destroyed when the department was shut down at the start of the 1968 Penn Central merger. However, seven small ledgers were kept separate and survived. These were apparently Lovell’s rough drafts for the finished binders. These ledgers, along with two typed copies that appear to represent the beginnings of an attempt to put the rosters in final form, were inherited by Bob Watson and included in the gift.Location of Copies
Primary copies are located at the Smithsonian.
Joseph D. Lovell was a Schedule Foreman at the Pennsylvania Railroad Company’s Juniata Shops at Altoona during the 1920s, 30s and 40s, by which point those shops were the company’s sole facilities for constructing locomotives. Production at the Juniata Shops began in 1891 and ceased in 1946. Lovell had an interest in the history of steam locomotives and had access to the company’s original locomotive records, which have long since become lost or scattered. He drew on these records to produce an all-time roster of Pennsylvania System locomotives to 1946, including the output not only of the Juniata Shops, but also the earlier Altoona Machine Shops (1866-1904) but also locomotives purchased from outside builders, principally the Baldwin Locomotive Works. His lists included rosters for both the Pennsylvania Railroad proper and its predecessor lines.
The Joseph D. Lovell Locomotive Rosters include copies of the original Binders No. 1 and 2, plus the seven volumes of rough notes and some miscellaneous papers. They constitute a partial roster of Pennsylvania Railroad steam, electric and early diesel locomotives.
The binders give capsule histories of the various railroad companies represented, although these are not entirely accurate. Readers are referred to the more accurate information in the four-volume corporate history of Coverdale & Colpitts.
Binder No. 1 includes rosters of certain predecessor and subsidiary lines east of Pittsburgh as follows: Northern Central Railway Co., Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad Co., West Jersey & Seashore Railroad Co., Western New York & Pennsylvania Railway Co., Allegheny Valley Railway Co., New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk Railroad Co., Pennsylvania & North Western Railroad Co., Cornwall & Lebanon Railroad Co., Cumberland Valley Railroad Co., Bellefonte & Snow Shore Railroad Co., Cresson, Clearfield County & New York Short Route Railroad Co., Pittsburgh, Virginia & Charleston Railway Co., Susquehanna, Bloomsburg & Berwick Railroad Co., Belvidere Delaware Railroad Co., Sunbury, Hazleton & Wilkes-Barre Railway Co., Frederick & Pennsylvania Line Railroad Co., Freehold & Jamesburg Agricultural Railroad Co., Lancaster & Quarryville Railroad Co., Youghiogheny Railroad, Bergner & Engel Brewing Co., Marion Railway Corp., and Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mount Joy & Lancaster Railroad Co. It also contains rosters of the predecessors of the above-named companies and also of the state-owned Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad and Allegheny Portage Railroad, whose properties were purchased by the PRR in 1857.
Note that certain important railroads, notably the Camden & Amboy Railroad & Transportation Company and the New Jersey Railroad & Transportation Company are missing from the list and were presumably covered in Binder No. 3, now missing.
Binder No. 2 contains rosters for a portion of the Pennsylvania Lines West of Pittsburgh as follows: Terre Haute & Indianapolis Railroad Co., St. Louis, Vandalia & Terre Haute Railroad Co., Terre Haute & Logansport Railway Co., Terre Haute & Peoria Railroad Co., East St. Louis & Carondelet Railway Co., Logansport & Toledo Railway Co., Indianapolis & Vincennes Railroad Co., Vandalia Railroad Co., and Little Miami Railroad Co. Note again that the bulk of Lines West, including the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Co. and the Pennsylvania Co., is missing and presumably contained in Binder No. 4.
The Binders are followed by typed copy of the rosters of the Philadelphia & Columbia Railroad and the Allegheny Portage Railroad contained in Binder No. 1.
The seven small ledgers list production in chronological order. Established facts are written in ink, while uncertain information is rendered in the form of penciled annotations. The first volume covers the production of the Altoona Machine Shop from 1866 to 1904. There are three volumes on the Juniata Shops. The first is a preliminary list in pencil, while the other two cover complete production from 1891 to 1946. There are likewise three volumes dealing with locomotives built at the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the PRR and associated railroads between 1834 and 1944. The data in these notebooks was taken from official records in the Baldwin offices. The first volume is a preliminary pencil list, the second covers production from 1834 to 1902, and the third from 1903 to 1944. Post-1944 diesel production is not shown. The second volume contains a long note written by Paul T. Warner describing the Baldwin classification systems in use between 1842 and 1940.
There is also a folder containing copies of letters and notes by Robert B. Watson documenting the provenance of the records.
Lovell’s binders are arranged by locomotive number, with early locomotives that were not numbered preceding them in alphabetical order. Although the Pennsylvania Railroad system occasionally assigned a particular production run of locomotives a block of numbers in chronological order, it typically assigned numbers in a haphazard fashion to first fill any numbers that had been vacated by losses through wrecks or retirements. Lovell thus groups all locomotives that held a particular number over the years.
In contrast, the ledgers show the output of the two Altoona shops and the Baldwin Locomotive Works in chronological order.