Taking Stock of William Jennings Holman and His Improbable Locomotive

equipment data; odds & ends; a note about sources

Invariably a during a project of this sort, a fair amount of data accumulates that is not quite relevant enough to include in the text. On the right side of the page is some of the stuff that did not make the cut, but nevertheless should be of interest to railfans. A brief note about sources is located below the Holman Equipment Data at the bottom of the page.

demonstration scale model history blt. 11-1890 by Henry J. Caldwell, Minneapolis for "So-Called" Holman-Caldwell Roller-gearing Locomotive Association; live steam model, possibly small enough for table top; disposition unknown

Truck #1, original
Truck #1, modified
history: blt. circa early 1894 by unknown party from parts manufactured in Minneapolis and presumably, Milwaukee; 3 truck sets with one substituted for loco lead truck ; disposition unknown

specifications: power truck wheels 24" dia.; friction bearings, later modified with friction & Holman roller bearings similar to #2

applications: original: 1894 under Soo Line #6, possibly in 1895 under Holman #1 at Cape May; the original may have been modified in the process of adapting it to fit under Holman #1 as per the 1895 patent - lead truck no longer used in favor of loco truck with large dia. wheels

Truck #2 (& #3?) history: blt. ca. 6-1897 by unknown party and sent to Baldwin;

specifications: 2 truck sets with combination friction and Holman-designed roller bearings; Baldwin specs called for one new set of trucks, and modification to (already modified) Truck #1 to fit locos #10 & #12; possibly a third truck may have been constructed instead; the unbuilt 1898 patent design generally follows the Truck # 2 bearing arrangement, but with fewer wheels

applications: 1897 under Holman #10 & #12; one possibly used in 1904 with Holman #10; disposition unknown - see unknown 1904 loco

Truck, further modified in 1904? One news report of the 1904 demonstration indicated that the trucks had friction bearings. Had Holman reverted back to his original design?


Soo Line #6, 4-4-0

history: blt. 1886 by Baldwin, Class 8-28C no. 602, c.n. 8071 for Minneapolis, Sault Sainte Marie and Atlantic #6, to Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Sainte Marie (SOO line) #6, 6 or 7-1888; scrapped 12-2-1926

specifications: 17x24 cylinders; 64" drivers; driver wheelbase 8' 6", total w.b. 23' 3 1/4'; 55,000 lbs. on drivers, 84,000 lbs. total weight; wood fired

apllications: leased in summer, 1894 to W.J. Holman for trials at Shoreham Yard and Northern Pacific "B" Line in Minneapolis

Baldwin "Specifications for Engines" sheets for Holman Locomotives #1 and #10-12 from SMU.Libraries

Holman #1, 4-4-0 history: blt. 8-1-1895 by Baldwin, Class 8-30C no. 473 , c.n. 14405; sold to Buffalo & Susequehanna #135, 7-7-1898; re#165 in 1902, re# 265 1907; to Southern Iron & Equipment Co. #1167, 5-1917 - used as yard switcher; to Ocilla Southern Ry. 12-19-1919; further disp. unknown

specifications: 18 x 24 cylinders; bp 165 psi; 63" drivers; driver wheelbase 8' 9", total w.b. 22' 10''; 64,000 lbs. on drivers, 100,000 lbs. total weight; Westinghouse air brakes on drivers, tender, and for train; tender lettered Holman Friction-geared Locomotive Attachments; planished iron boiler, olive green cab & tender w/ aluminum lettering, striping,

applications: used with Truck #1 on South Jersey RR during 1895-1896

Holman #10, 4-4-0 history: blt. 6-1897 by Baldwin, Class 8-34C nos. 76 & 77, c.n. 15379 for Holman Locomotive Speeding Truck Co., but lettered as South Jersey Railroad #10; Cook and Coxey (see biblio.) report sighted under Holman ownership sans trucks at Philadelphia & Reading Chestnut Hill, PA roundhouse in 1892; Connely rosters, however show it sold to Kansas City & Northern Connecting #402, date unknown; to Kansas City, Peoria and Chicago #402, 10-1901; supposedly sold before relettering to Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City, 7-1902, but not shown on that roster;

specifications: 20x36 cylinders; bp 200 psi: 63 1/4" drivers; 8' 6" driver wheelbase, 23' 7" total; ~80,000 on drivers, ~126,000 total; Westinghouse air brakes on "Eng. Trk"; planished iron boiler, royal blue cab & tender with gold & aluminum striping

applications: periodically used with truck #2 from 7 to 10-1897; see unknown 1904 loco

Holman #12, 4-4-0 history, specs, applications: as above, with c.n. 15380; Connely says sold to Kansas City & Northern Connecting #400, which suggests that it joined roster earlier than Holman #10; subsequent owners same as #10 as #400; see unknown 1904 loco

unknown 1904 loco On May 24, 1904, one Holman Locomotive tested on the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg, the first run since 1897. Which loco was used is unknown. If rosters are to be trusted, locos #10 and #12 were already thrice sold and possibly on a Midwest Railroad. Cook and Coxey's 1902 sighting of #10 seems to dispute that. What clouds things further is a report that the test's Holman trucks had friction bearings, which supposedly disappeared when Truck #1 was modified.

Note Cook, Coxey and other secondary sources maintain that a Holman Speeding Truck derailed and ejected its locomotive at speed near Cape May Court House during the fall of 1897, yet no newspapers covering the event have surfaced. Both locomotives / trucks apparently were operable at year's end.

South Jersey Railroad 1897 vital statistics

(click on image) -Poor's Manual of the Railroads, Vol.30, 1897

Atlantic City Railroad / Philadelphia & Reading 4-4-2 Atlantics
(click for larger images) Atlantic City Railroad banished Holman in 1898 in part because it already had 1896-built high-steppers of its own. These Camelback-type locos easily outclassed the Holmans. The well-circulated-throughout-the-Web photo above of #1027 clearly delineates its maroon paint job. Although it did not rate a Topps collector card, #1027 did appear on a 20th Century collectors' stamps issued by Union Island - Grenedines of St. Vincent.

The locos became part of the Philadelphia & Reading roster in 1900, and were augmented by P&R's own Camelback Atlantics, including #301, below, built in Reading shops in 1907. This photo of it traversing the meadows near Cape May is a bit of a puzzle. Roster data says it was renumbered to #316 in 1911, but that must not have been the case, because here it is with post-1923 Reading lettering. The same goes for P&R #303, second below. Compaany built in 1909, it also was supposedly renumbered in 1911 (to #317,318?), but it is pictured in an unknown location as Reading 303. Both locos appear to have been retired about the time PRSL was formed.The four ACRR Camelbacks were all retired in the late 1920's. (from prints in Wx4 collection,- unknown photographers)

West Jersey / West Jersey & Seashore (PRR) assorted docs

Public Timetables:

1912-12-31 WJ&S Annual Report -
......42 pgs ,w/ map;
......(click image for map JPEG)

Circa 1910-1917 WJ&S track charts hand drawn by Fireman Eddie Fell, courtesy of Don Lee and his PRSLHS page

Main Line Diagrams
Branch Line Diagrams

Pennsylvania Railroad
Public Timetables

1925-06-30 Pennsylvania RR - Philly - Atlantic City - Cape May broadside
1913-09-04 Pennsylvania RR - Atlantic City - Cape May excursions broadside PTT

Pennsylvania-Reading-Seashore Lines

During the depths of the Depression in 1933, Reading RR and Pensylvania RR cut their losses by combining much of their New Jersey trackage into the jointly held Pennsylvania-Reading-Seashore Lines. This soon caused the abandonment of the former West Jersey & Seashore Cape May branch. In the 1950's PRSL substituted self-propelled Rail Diesel Cars (RDC) for conventional trains, and they handled the business until the end of Cape May passenger service in 1981. At right is one of the RDC's at Cape May depot on 9-27-1969. By then the original 1894 South Jersey depot was long gone.

Public Timetables

1943-06-27 PRSL
- Atlantic City
1945-06-24 PRSL - Cape May
1948-09-13 PRSL - Cape May
1958-04-27 PRSL - Millville
1958-04-27 PRSL - Cape May

1974-06-15 PRSL - Cape May / Atlantic

Miscellaneous Timetables, Maps


New Jersey

Conrail ended freight service to Cape May in 1983 and sold the branch to New Jersey Transit. Cape May Seashore Lines. Private operator Seashore Lines re-initiated freight service in 1984, and in 1996 began running excursion trains on segments of the railroad that varied over time. Currently, passenger trains run the 30 miles between Tuckaho and Richland, but the Cape May vicinity trains no longer run.

For a PDF of a 4-8-2001 brochure, including schedules, line side notes and a map, click on the image at right.

CMSL ex PRSL Rail Diesel Car at Cold Harbor, 7-27-1996.

A note about sources

For reasons of Covid and my residential status well outside the Continental 48, I performed nearly 100% of my Holman research online. It worked out well. As a crook, Holman was not inclined to leave incriminating evidence lying around for posterity, so remained for all of the sorts of things that you find on the Web to divulge his story. Google and even eBay proved to be my friends.

The only trove of offline data that I know of resides at Indiana Historical Society, which has Joseph Holman's collected papers, as well as FW&S annual reports which I hope to follow-up at the first opportunity. Kate Scott of that institution did kindly provide me with a copy of a 49 manuscript entitled Fort Wayne & Southern Railroad, The Dream, It's Successors, Connections, Postal Contracts by John Prendergast. Its brief section on FW&S proper offered nothing new, but his descriptions of successor companies helped my understanding of their complicated histories.

My principle source of data came from public and private newspaper sites. Library of Congress, Genealogy Bank and Newspapers.com all proved to be invaluable. Indiana and Kentucky's public newspaper sites are linked to LOC. I was pleased to find over 200 articles pertainng to Holman and his projects, and I anticipate finding many, many more once search engine OCR programs achieve reliable literacy.

What we know about the specification of Holman's locomotives come from online copies of Baldwin Specification for Engines sheets at SMU.Libraries

Also crucial were Google Books, Haith Trust and Internet Archive for trade and financial Journals, Indiana county histories, Holman's FW&S survey, Official Guide timetables and large number of miscellaneous documents.

Genealogical website Ancestry com provided most of the Holman family data, and even that photo of W.J. and Kate.

I would have gotten nowhere without the selection of Library of Congress online maps displayed here.

W. George Cook and William J. Coxey's book Atlantic City Railroad, The Royal Route to the Sea (West Jersey Chapter, NRHS 1980) puts 'the Holman era' into the longer perspective of southern New Jersey railroad history. This is one of the sources claiming that a Holman Locomotive once derailed near Cape May Courthouse.

Finally, special thanks to Jeff Moore for profreading this monograph; to Allen Stanley for providing me access to his enormous collection, my go-to source for arcane locomotive roster data; to Victor Baird for his helpful input and to Don Lee for allowing me to post a copy of Eddie Fell's incredible c1910 West Jersey & Seashore track charts (above right) from his PRSLHS page.