Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Evanston Avenue Steam-Dummy Locomotive, Chicago, Illinois.

As of 1861, rail tracks for public transportation - streetcars were planned along Green Bay Road (Clark Street) and Evanston Avenue (now Broadway). The residents along Evanston Avenue would have a hate/love relationship with the new technology of its day. The residents loved their horses and did not like private companies telling them what they needed.
A steam engine called the 'dummy' train was used along Evanston Avenue from Fullerton Avenue (the north boundary of Chicago) to Graceland Cemetery (at Montrose) during the 1870s. The first car of this steamed-powered train was designed for the engine. 

The engine was enclosed to look like a passenger car, hence the name 'dummy.' The story goes that if the horses saw the engine, they would get spooked. It was thought that the more familiar appearance of a coach presented by a steam dummy compared to a conventional engine would be less likely to frighten horses when these trains had to operate in city streets. 

Later, it was discovered that it was actually the noise and motion of the operating gear of a steam engine that frightened horses rather than the unfamiliar outlines of a steam engine.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. For those that don't know a steam dummy is not a steam engine the steam is manufactured in an offsite boiler and then pumped into the engine, the pressure of the steam turns the wheels through various gears and rods
    When the steam runs out it needs to be hooked up to a high-pressure boiler again.

    1. To avoid the steam-dummy from smoking, the fuel used was coke, rather than coal. To prevent visible emission of steam, two opposite systems were used:
      1) condensing the exhaust steam and returning the condensation to the water tank, and 2) reheating the exhaust steam to make it invisible


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