Steam Locomotive in the Smithsonian

The steam locomotive Jupiter of the Santa Cruz Railroad is on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

The steam locomotive Jupiter of the Santa Cruz Railroad is on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

As we were wandering through the museum, Laura and I both saw the Jupiter at the same time. Laura said, “Did you know they have a train in here?” I did not, because if I had known, we would have gone to find it earlier in our visit. We just happened upon it, and I was glad that we did.

Baldwin builder’s plate of the steam Locomotive Jupiter of the Santa Cruz Railroad is on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

The Baldwin builder’s plate shows that the locomotive was built in 1876 in Philadelphia, which is where Baldwin’s factory was located, and was given the production number 3972. Matthias Baldwin started making locomotives in 1825. The official name of the company changed a few times as Baldwin took on different partners, and even more so after Baldwin’s passing in 1866. From 1873 to 1890, the company took its name from its proprietors, Burnham, Parry, Williams & Co. The company was eventually incorporated as Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1909.

The steam Locomotive Jupiter of the Santa Cruz Railroad is on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

According to the sign, the Jupiter was built in 1876 by Baldwin Locomotive Works, and was the Santa Cruz railroad’s third locomotive. Once the Santa Cruz Railroad switched to standard gauge, the narrow-gauge Jupiter was used in Guatemala to haul bananas before going to the Smithsonian for the United States bicentennial. So over its lifetime, the locomotive went from Philadelphia (where Baldwin built its locomotives) to California, and then to Washington. That is quite a trip!

The steam Locomotive Jupiter of the Santa Cruz Railroad is on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

By the way, this locomotive is not to be confused with the Jupiter of the Central Pacific Railroad, which was one of the two locomotives at the Golden Spike ceremony. Same name, different locomotive.

Fascinating Trains

Trains have always been fascinating to me. I always enjoyed riding the trains at Opryland in Nashville, and later on the trains in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. By the way, the Walt Disney World locomotives were also built by Baldwin, just like the Jupiter was.

I know I am not the only one out there who likes trains. I happen to prefer steam-powered locomotives such as this one, although more modern diesel engines are interesting, too.

Over the years, trains have been replaced by cars and airplanes as the main modes of transportation. Yes, those newfangled things will get you where you want to go more quickly, but there is still something interesting about a train.

The new ways are good, but the old ways are still good, too, just maybe in different ways. That can be said of so many things. Depending on the situation, faster is not always better, just faster.

These days, I might be feeling more like a train than a faster car or airplane. But I like to think I still have some worth, too.

Let’s enjoy the new things while still holding onto some of the not-so-new things, too.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. - Psalm 71:17-18

About the Photos

As you might be able to tell, there was not all that much light in this part of the Smithsonian exhibit, and the locomotive itself was not all that brightly colored, either. So I turned the ISO setting up to 2500. Because of that, I had to do a good bit of noise reduction, some in Raw Therapee and some in GIMP.

Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in Raw Therapee and GIMP.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens
Date: July 27, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


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About Burnsland
Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.