HONESDALE, Pa. (WHTM) — The Delaware and Hudson was chartered in 1823 as a canal company to provide a link between Pennsylvania coal fields around Carbondale and New York City.

It would be the first company in America to successfully operate a steam locomotive.

The canal they built ended at Honesdale, Pennsylvania, northeast of Scranton. To get the coal from the mines to the canal, the company planed to use a “gravity railroad” — a series of inclined planes to get the coal to the canal boats. But it wasn’t long before they were thinking of adding some new-fangled technology from Britain: the steam locomotive.

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In 1828, deputy engineer Horatio Allen was sent to England to investigate locomotives. He was given discretion to purchase up to four engines if he decided they lived up to their hype, as well as material for track. Allen bought one engine from the Stephenson company in Newcastle and three from Foster Rastrick and Company in Stourbridge. One of the three was named the “Stourbridge Lion” after the lion’s head painted on the front of the boiler.

By the time the Stourbridge Lion arrived in Honesdale, track construction was well on its way, with over three miles laid down. Horatio Allen prepared to take the locomotive out on its first test run on Aug. 8, 1829.

A crowd of people turned out to watch the test. Some were sure the locomotive wouldn’t move at all. Others kept a discreet distance, worried that the boiler would blow up. In fact, Allen was the only person on board because no one else was willing to ride along.

Then Allen opened the throttle, the Stourbridge Lion started moving, and the crowd started cheering. The locomotive disappeared from view, but soon returned, running backward, returning to Honesdale after a magnificently uneventful, non-explosive run totaling 3 miles.

So the first run of the Stourbridge Lion was a history-making success. But there was a problem…two problems, actually. The rails they were using on the railroad were not solid steel or even iron. Instead, the rails were made of wood, with a strip of iron screwed in place on top. And the Lion was a tad overweight — the railroad wanted an engine that weighed around 4 tons, and the Stourbridge Lion weighed in at 7 1/2. Amidst worries that the heavy engine would wreck the lightweight track, the Stourbridge Lion went into storage.

Over time, parts were sold off, other parts were pilfered, and by the time the Stourbridge Lion was gifted to the Smithsonian in 1890, the boiler (heavily damaged) and a few parts were all that were left. The boiler is now on loan to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.

In 1933, the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, using the original blueprints, built a replica of the Stourbridge Lion. It can be seen at the Wayne County Historical Society in Honesdale, which is located in the old headquarters building of the D&H, which sits where the canal and railroad used to meet.