Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jersey Central Camelback

This 41-2 (Atlantic) type engine, which Brooks Locomotive Co. built in 1901 for the Central Railroad of New Jersey, was one of several hundred "double-cabbers" that operated mostly in the East over a period of about seventy years, beginning in 1880. The middle cab resembled a camel’s hump or Mother Hubbard’s hood and was, therefore, called a Camelback or Mother Hubbard. In some Camelbacks the rear cab was so rudimentary that it was almost nonexistent. While this arrangement gave the engineer working on mid-boiler a better view of the track ahead, it lessened cooperation between him and his fireman shoveling coal in the tender behind. It was virtually impossible for the fireman to communicate with the engineer while the train was running, although the engineer could signal by bell or whistle; and in an emergency the fireman could stop the train by setting the air brake. Built for speed, Camelbacks pulled the fastest passenger trains on the Camden-Atlantic City run.

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Joseph A. Smith (1895-1978) was an avid collector of railroad photos, sharing many of them with fellow collectors in the Northeast. A former plumbing contractor, Smith presumably developed his interest in railroads through his father – a trolley motorman in Troy, NY.

His extensive collection focused on the lines that once served Troy: Delaware & Hudson, Rutland, Boston & Maine and New York Central. Many of his children – especially his sons Joseph Jr., James and Paul -- developed a similar interest and added to his collection with photos of their own. Maintaining the collection is now in the hands of his grandson, Kenneth Bradford. Coincidentally, Ken’s other grandfather worked as a manager at the Schenectady plant of the American Locomotive Company.

Smith was a life member of the Capital District Railroad Club of Schenectady. He was also a member of the Mohawk-Hudson Chapter Railway Historical Society and its parent organization, the National Railway Historical Society.