Wayne County celebrates the Stourbridge Lion’s 175th birthday

HONESDALE, PA — Sunday marked the climax of a weekend celebration at the Wayne County Museum, honoring the 175th anniversary of the Stourbridge Lion’s 1829 test run, an event which marked Honesdale as the birthplace of railroading in America.

Built in England, the Stourbridge Lion engine was purchased by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company to haul coal on portions of the gravity railroad, which delivered coal into Honesdale from the Moosic Mountains. But the Lion was never used on unstable wooden tracks and was housed in a shed in Honesdale, where its parts were scavenged over the years.

In 1888, the Smithsonian Institute acquired many of the remaining parts, reassembled and displayed the engine in Washington. That exhibit is now at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.

Honesdale created another replica for a centennial celebration of the canal in the 1920s and that replica now resides at the museum.

Sally Talaga, director of the Wayne County Historical Society, said a recreation of the test run with the replica engine was originally planned, but had to be abandoned because of insurance costs.

TRR photo by David Hulse
Sally Talaga, director of the Wayne County Historical Society, shows off the replica of the Stourbridge Lion and talked with Wayne County Museum visitors on August 8, the 175th anniversary of the first trial run of a commercial railroad engine in America. (Click for larger version)