June 2017 Article

This Month's Article:  June 2017
"Hutchcraft", the #7 N&A Locomotive

The development of the Jellico coal mining area in Kentucky/Tennessee by a consortium of principals in the 1880’s led to the formation of the Procter Coal Company and the purchase of a Baldwin locomotive, numbered as #1 but lettered “Hutchcraft” for the company’s chief geologist and a principal in the company.  Brent Rice Hutchcraft, originally from Bourbon County, Kentucky, had a storied life before embarking in the coal business, first as a dealer and then in forming a coal company to exploit the Jellico area.  To bring this in reference to the Nelson & Albemarle Railway, you first need to understand the conditions that led the N&A/soapstone company to purchase what would be the only Baldwin locomotive serving their needs through 1920 when the locomotive would be advertised for sale and be sold to Southern Iron & Equipment company (SI&E) in Atlanta, Georgia.  ****   In 1905, the Nelson & Albemarle Railway was hard-pressed to move soapstone, soapstone products, and people to and from the works
in Alberene and in Schuyler.  The railroad had just received a new Porter-built locomotive (numbered #4) constructed in December and the soapstone company was searching for good used equipment to round out the roster and provide sufficient motive power to handle all mill operations in Schuyler.  In March and May, they purchased 2 mildly-used 0-4-4T
Forney from Patricius McManus – a dealer in used locomotives in Cape Charles, Virginia on the Eastern Shore.  The former-Manhattan Railway locomotives became N&A #5 and #6 – having traveled on a barge across the Chesapeake Bay from Cape Charles to get to an interchange with the C&O Railway and final delivery in Esmont.  Ownership was with the soapstone company and the locomotives would be used for shuttling cars in Schuyler and making up freight for transport to either Rockfish to interchange with the Southern Railway or Esmont to interchange with the C&O Railway.  The new Porter, locomotive #4, was the main line engine handling traffic between the two soapstone works (Schuyler, Alberene) and their quarries as well as the interchange with the Southern and C&O until used locomotives that became #7 and #8 on the N&A were purchased.  The history of #8 is a mystery yet to be uncovered.  It is suspected that the locomotive appearing on the Nelson & Albemarle Railway stock certificate is a depiction of N&A #8 shown with a tender pulling blocks of soapstone on flat cars!

With memories of #8 having a tender from ‘old-timers’ as noted by Garth Groff in his booklet, “Soapstone Shortlines:  Alberene Stone and Its Railroads”, this could be that locomotive.  Interestingly, there is no over-the-boiler water tank, so this graphic could really represent an as-yet-unknown Forney that the soapstone company may have also purchased second-hand.  However, in 1910 #8 needed ‘front-end work’ which likely meant there was a front truck in need of repair.  That would exclude this being a Forney which had no front truck. Could it have been a Shay
locomotive?  That is a possibility as there is little data from this early era of 1905-1920. 
If purchased used there may no longer be any record of this locomotive to discover.   Whatever locomotive type it actually was, #8 was used to service traffic between Alberene and Esmont and according to other historians, was kept in a wooden engine house in Alberene when not in use.  We continue to search for detail on this elusive locomotive but may never really know what locomotive this was.  ****  Locomotive #7 was purchased to manage trips between Schuyler and Rockfish, servicing the interchange with the Southern Railway.  The history of this
locomotive is well-documented.  Originally #1, “Hutchcraft”, of the Procter Coal Company in Kentucky the engine was built by Baldwin in 1887 (construction number 8874)
for use in the Jellico coal mine area.  The Smithsonian Institution provided a direct-print of “Hutchcraft” from a cracked-glass negative of the original Baldwin builder’s photo with crisp lettering for “The Procter Coal Co.” on the water tank above the drivers and “Hutchcraft” just below the windows on each side, demonstrating the locomotive as it looked when first delivered.  The direct-print made by the Smithsonian photo lab doesn’t
do the locomotive proper justice though.  The namesake for this locomotive, Brent Rice Hutchcraft, was a veteran of the War Between the States, having enlisted when only 13 years old in 1861.  His personal background is well-documented in “A History of Kentucky and Kentuckians, The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities”, Volume III, by E. Polk Johnson, published in 1912 by the Lewis Publishing Company of Chicago and New York.  The book briefly outlines his war years and the eight years of farming afterwards that led him to the dry-goods business for the following nine years.  Moving to Lexington, Kentucky he became a coal dealer for three years handling coal brought into the city by the Southern rail line before organizing a coal mining/development company.
Marrying in 1878, the locomotive that bore his name would be constructed 9 years later in November 1887 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works as construction number 8874.  It would have 8 x 12 cylinders and what was identified in Richard E. Prince’s “The Richmond-Washington Line and Related Railroads” as 26” drivers. However, the diameter of the drivers was more like 56” as photographs attest. The locomotive would enshrine the legacy of Brent Rice Hutchcraft for 18 years while owned by the Procter Coal Company.  When first photographed by Baldwin, a large-size print from the glass negative was made and given to the coal company.  This must have made quite an impression on the company as the framed photograph was held up by an employee in a photo of coal company employees recently found.  “Hutchcraft” was also photographed while in early use and still very
‘clean’.  It is this photograph discovered only recently in the Filson Historical Society Collection of Louisville, Kentucky, that has sharp, crisp detail.  The black & white version of this photo cropped to just show the locomotive provides some of the best detail seen in any photographs of early locomotives (this is 130 years old!) and demonstrates why this locomotive wa
s still valuable to the Nelson & Albemarle Railway in moving soapstone and soapstone products
when offered for sale 18 years after it was built.  There are few photographs of locomotives shown actually working, but there is at least one with “Hutchcraft” moving East Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia Railway gondolas.  The ETV&G interchanged with the Procter Coal Company at Jellico, Tennessee with a line connecting at Knoxville, Tennessee with what would become the North-South route of the Southern Railway when that system was formed in 1894 (including absorption of the ETV&G).  This may have made acquisition of “Hutchcraft” an easy proposition for the N&A
as the Baldwin-built locomotive could travel up the Southern Railway line to Rockfish, Virginia and from there to Schuyler; serving the interchange with the Southern for 15 years.  It would also be this North-South route that would send “Hutchcraft” to Southern Iron & Equipment when sold by the N&A in 1920, breaking off that main line at Cleveland, Tennessee to arrive in Atlanta by way of Rome, Georgia.  No other records or photographs of the Procter Coal Company using the locomotive have been found yet. **** When Hutchcraft arrived at Schuyler in 1905, there were issues with the rear-trailing truck on the locomotive now numbered as #7 by the N&A.  This problem had evidently plagued the Procter Coal Company as the Baldwin original truck had already been replaced but may have continuously caused issues afterwards.  By 1910 the rear trailing truck was giving that continuous problem to the N&A after only 5 years of service.  A major rebuilding was done that year to keep #7 operating and the Schuyler to Rockfish route furnished with motive power.
The good fortunes of the newly-combined company, having taken Captain Foster’s Virginia Soapstone as its name, would bring an opportunity to purchase
new locomotives to replace the Baldwin-built #7 (from 1887) along with two other engines.  It is also at this juncture that N&A locomotive #8 disappears from the roster.  In 1917, Virginia Soapstone would purchase the Old Dominion Soapstone Company and reform as Virginia Alberene Company.  The Nelson & Albemarle Railway would advertise on page 169 of the January 8th 1920 issue of “Industrial Development and Manufacturers Record” (Volume 77) “Locomotives For Sale” which included 4 locomotives,
the fourth one listed being the former “Hutchcraft”.  Three of the four locomotives would be sold to Southern Iron & Equipment with 1 – H. K. Porter, 10-ton Standard gauge Dinkey (Porter construction number #836 built in May, 1887) becoming SI&E #1599 (former Richmond City Railway #1 and N&A #1), 1 – Vulcan 10-ton Standard gauge Dinkey (Vulcan construction #675 built in June of 1905) becoming SI&E #1600 (former Old Dominion Soapstone #1 – though shown as their #2 in Tom Lawson’s book “Locomotives of the Southern Iron & Equipment Company”), 1 – Forney Type 30-ton Standard Gauge Locomotive (built originally for the Manhattan Railway would not be part of the sale to SI&E), and 1 – 2-4-2 Type 50-ton Standard Gauge Baldwin (the former “Hutchcraft” being the last of the sold locomotives) becoming SI&E #1597.  There is no record of the final disposition of the Forney, though likely not sold and eventually scrapped.
would photograph locomotives when ready for sale, and “Hutchcraft” would sell relatively quickly on September 23rd, 1920 to A. F. Langford as their #2 for use by the Georgia-based contractor in Bartow, Florida.  It’s final disposition from then is not known either as shortly thereafter, A. F. Langford died and there is little information on what happened with his business dealings. **** 
Having good experience with Vulcan-built locomotives, the next locomotives purchased would start to migrate Nelson & Albemarle Railway toward being an all Vulcan locomotive-based line. For the next thirty years, until dieselization in 1950, the N&A and Virginia Alberene would operate with that second round of purchased new and used motive power.

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