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New York Central Steam Locomotive #999;
New York Central Steam Locomotive #999;
Resource Typeimage
TitleNew York Central Steam Locomotive #999;
Coverage / Year1893
DescriptionThe New York Central 999 steam locomotive and fuel car measure approximately sixteen feet tall, ten feet wide, and forty-eight feet long. The driving wheels are seven feet, two inches tall. The locomotive and fuel car weigh 124, 000 pounds. The locomotive, with two driving wheels on each side, is painted black with silver trim, and has brass components.
InterpretationOn May 10, 1893, Engine 999 and its attached New York Central Railroad's new passenger train, the Empire State Express, broke the world's land-speed record. The chosen route ran from Syracuse to Buffalo, New York. No other vehicle of any kind had reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour at that time, and it would be another decade before another locomotive matched the 999's speed. The 999 represented a new concept in speed locomotives. Its large oversized wheels gave the 999 its imposing appearance and enabled it to reach heart-stopping speeds. These unusually tall wheels were referred to as a 4-4-0 type, with four leading wheels (pilots) and four driving wheels (drivers) with no trailing wheels. During its historic speed record run, the drivers were spinning more than 400 times a minute. The World's Fastest Locomotive was a popular attraction at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Continuing to draw awestruck admiration, the 999 toured the country. The 999 reappeared again in Chicago at A Century of Progress World's Fair in 1933-1934, and also at Chicago's Railroad Fair of 1948-1949. Eventually, technological innovation in the railroad industry limited the practicality of the 999. In May of 1952, following a reenactment of its record-breaking run, the 999 retired from service. Once at the forefront of technological achievement, the 999 now stands as a relic of a bygone age. Although designed and built with the intention of breaking a speed record, its primary function was the transportation of people and freight. In 1962 the Museum of Science and Industry acquired the 999 Steam Locomotive. Over its operational lifetime, components of the 999 were modified or replaced, affecting its appearance. This an image of the 999 after it was retired from service.
Lesson Plans / ThemesAmerican communities in history; Communities and Geography; How we learn about communities; Settling in the Midwest; World Environments; Exploring The Columbian Exposition; What's that relic?
Learning Standards16 History; 10-12 Science; 13 Science, Technology and Society;
Author or CreatorNew York Central Railroad Company
SourceMuseum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Accession file #62.17;
Subject / KeywordsRail transportation; Railroads; Steam locomotives; New York City; Chicago, Illinois; Columbian Exposition; World records; Speed records
Collection PublisherMuseum of Science and Industry, Chicago;
Further InformationFor any further information related to this record, please contact the Collection Publisher. See for more information about this project.
Rights Management Statement
Resource Identifier62.17
CONTENTdm file name7814151982002_999.jpg
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