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“Pioneer” Locomotive

Pioneer is the name of the first railroad locomotive to operate in Chicago, Illinois. The Pioneer was purchased as a 10-year-old second-hand engine from a New York railroad. At the time Chicago did not have a single operating engine, while the eastern coast cities had extensive rail networks. It arrived in Chicago by schooner, and it pulled the first train westbound out of the town in 1848.

The Pioneer was initially used to construct the new train tracks west of Chicago, before carrying its first paying customers. This locomotive continued to haul passengers and cargo for another ten years before being deployed to light yard duties. In time Chicago emerged as a major rail centre.


Essential Facts:

  • Title:                      Pioneer
  • Power type:         Steam
  • Builder:                Baldwin Locomotive Works
  • Build date:           1837
  • Configuration:    Whyte 4-2-0
  • Official names:   Alert (U&S), Pioneer (G&CU)
  • Museum:              Chicago History Museum


“Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!” Orville Wright



Photo Credit: JOM