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The Official 2009 Pennsylvania Geocoin


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Purchase it HERE!

 

Coin Stats:

 

2.0" diameter

5.0 mm thick

Black Nickel Plating

Soft Enamel

Trackable with a unique icon

 

Chris Mackey's Design Commentary:

 

When asked to take part in designing the Official PA Geocoin for 2009 I was delighted to be approached and then immediately concerned that I would do PA justice with my design. Being a particularly poor student of history, I had my work cut out for me. I began by narrowing down my target by concentrating on the region where I lived and by chance discovered some amazing facts, met some amazing people and had a life changing experience as well.

 

About ten minutes down the road the National Park System and U.S. Department of the Interior developed the Steamtown National Historic Site. It is the only place in the National Park System where the story of steam railroading, and the people who made it possible, is told. With a little investigation I learned to my surprise and delight that the first railroad in the nation began only a block and a half from my home and traveled over a mountain, through Fox's yard and all the way to nearby Honesdale, PA. It carried the coal that powered New York City and fueled the Industrial Revolution. The coal carried on these rails was transferred to the Delaware and Hudson Canal system where it went through the longest water-lock system in the world being more than twice the length of the Panama Canal!

 

I visited the D&H offices in Honesdale that now house the Wayne County Historical Society Museum (since 1939) and learned a wealth of information. The offices are another national landmark and attended by a wonderful staff of enthusiastic history buffs. I was thrilled to meet Nancy, the caretaker and historian in charge of the museum. After spending an afternoon learning the amazing story of the Lion, I finally approached the lead historian with my idea for the geocoin. Imagine my surprise when she told me her son is a Geocacher and thought it would be a great idea! The project was moving full steam ahead, but the surprises kept coming. A short time later Fox and I were invited to take a working model of the Lion out from the glass display case of the museum and operate it on an actual track near Lansdale, PA. Under the close supervision of the engineers, we were able to fire up the coal and had the boiler steaming in short order. Out onto the tracks and down the rails we went! The tiny scale model pulled Fox, his daughter and myself without the slightest hesitation. I could only imagine the awesome power of the real engine the first time it charged up the mountain.

 

This coin is a tribute to the legacy of Pennsylvania and it's debut of railroading in the United States. The lion should be a symbol of pride for every Pennsylvanian and I hope this coin represents that legacy with honor.

 

The coin itself is encircled by the tracks of the Gravity Railroad and the spokes are replicants of the original spokes on the coal cart pulled by the lion. The 180th Anniversary of the Lion is proudly displayed over the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company's trademark shield. The face of the lion in it's traditional place on the face of the boiler challenges the task set before it as it claims it's place in the history of American railroading. Though much debate rages over the birthplace of American railroads no one can dispute the fact that Pennsylvania had the honor of being the first to pioneer the locomotive.

 

THE HISTORY:

 

The "STOURBRIDGE LION" was the first locomotive to run on a railway in America, and was operated between Honesdale and Seely's Mills in Pennsylvania on the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company's railroad, August 8, 1829.

 

On March 13, 1823, The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company obtained rights from the Legislature of Pennsylvania, authorizing them to construct a canal from the mouth of the Lackawaxen to the present site of Honesdale and also to construct a railroad from their coal beds at Cardondale to the head of this canal.

 

In January, 1828, Horatio Allen left New York for England and contracted for four locomotives, one of which, the "STOURBRIDGE LION," built by Foster, Rastrick and Company of Stourbridge, England, was shipped in February, 1829, unloaded in New York, May 14, and then taken to Honesdale, PA., arriving the later part of July, where it was placed on the track and prepared for service.

 

One of the Company's coal wagons was fitted up to serve as a tender and a box added under the boiler, built around the junction of the two exhaust pipes form the cylinders with the single exhaust pipe to the stack, from which water flowing form the tender was pumped into the boiler. This was probably the first feed water heater in America.

 

The name LION was suggested by the fancy of a workman, who painted on the circular front , the head of a fierce-looking lion in bright colors, covering nearly the entire area.

 

Early in the forenoon of August 8, 1829, the "STOURBRIDGE LION" was "fired up" with Lackawaxen coal and ready to go. It was run back and forth on the straight portion of the track by Mr. Allen and then set forth on its history-making trip, for it was the first locomotive to run on a railroad in the Western Hemisphere, covering a distance of about one and a half miles to Seely's Mills, where it was reversed and returned to its starting point.

 

The trial was a failure despite the beautiful performance of the Lion. The original specification for the locomotive had specified a maximum weight of 4 tons. The Lion and her sisters weighed in at 7.5 tons, nearly double the specified weight. The track made of hemlock rails with iron railcap with tie spacing of 10' between ties had been constructed for a much lighter locomotive and would not support the greater weight of the locomotives. Sadly, the Lion and her sisters were retired to other uses. The only remaining pieces of these locomotives are the boiler from the Lion and one of the cylinders from the America, both in the possession of the Smithsonian. All traces of the Delaware and the Hudson Locomotives disappeared after the locomotives had been delivered to Honesdale.

 

Fun Photos!

 

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Mr. Jackalgirl is a train maniac, so he is going to love this coin. : )

 

:grin: I'm glad to hear it! I think one of the most unusual things I learned (there were a bunch!!!) was that the wheels on the engine didn't have steel spokes. In fact they were made of wood and only the spoke with the drive linkage was metal. They were uniformally painted red to hide that fact though.

 

It's weird to think that the sleepy little town where I live used to receive over 28,000 visitors on a single weekend at a time in history when very few people ever traveled more than a few miles from home. I can only imagine what a spectacle it was and how proud the local Pennsylvanians were to be a part of history :P

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Can I ask what makes it the "official" coin? Not snarking, just curious if it's an annual edition or something?

 

Not at all, I've wondered about that myself sometimes about other coins. :D I was contacted about designing the official coin for 2009 by committee (producers of the original official PA coin) prior to the 2008 Geocoinfest. Shortly after I aquired the legal rights to produce a coin using some of the copyrighted imagery (lion's face / D&H Logo) from the Historical Society. I sent comprehensive artwork that was voted upon and accepted before continuing forward with the project. We then presented it during a seminar at the Geocoinfest announcing its impending arrival. We had initially hoped to have it available in January of 2009, but due to technical problems (multiple mints said it was impossible) we suffered a few setbacks. We made a few concessions, adjusted a number of elements and then finally just put our foot down and refused to budge. Finally the wind blew our way and production began! I know not all of that is relevant to your original question, but the short-short version is that the project came to us with the title, we didn't just throw the words on there :mad::rolleyes:

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