The next in the series of 'Trains & Locomotives ' post cards issued by the USPS in 1999 is the 'Brother Johnathan' locomotive of 1832. Each of these cards is a mini history lesson and this card is no exception. By adding a front truck to the locomotive to help guide the heavy boiler around curves, the Brother Johnathan was the first distinctly American locomotive.
At the time (1832), basically only Europe and America were pushing forward with railroad construction but there was some distinct differences in their approaches to railroad construction. Have you ever noticed when looking at photos of European engines why they often don't have a separate set of small wheels at the front of their road engines? Even early on in railroad development, the Europeans were building with stout rails and long sweeping curves along well planned and built trackbed allowing engines and rolling stock to enter the curves gradually, thus negating the need for a set of wheels in the front to guide the engine. Americans got cheap. Plain and simple. Our entrepreneur's, put profit ahead of safety and good sense and did everything they could to save a buck (so that ultimately more $$$ could go into their pockets). Trains running on crappy track on poor roadbed around tight curves necessitated the need to be able to ease those heavy boilers into a curve. Thus the leading truck as seen first on Brother Johnathan. Enjoy!