THE FIRST IRON RAIL
At the beginning of 1844 there were 4,185 miles of railroads in America. All the rails used upon them, except for "strap" rails and a few Cast iron rails, were imported from England. The manufacture of heavy wrought iron rails in this country began in that year at the Mt. Savage Rolling Mill. There, at some time between April and November, were rolled the first edge rails ever rolled in America. They were of the "U" or bridge section known as the "Evans" pattern of the Dowlais Iron Works located at Merthyr Tidfil, Wales and weighed 40 pounds per yard.
In November of 1844, this rail was awarded a silver medal by the Franklin Institute. The medal was at one time a part of the collection of the museum of lnee Blundell of Lancashire, England but the museum is now closed and the whereabouts of the medal is not now known.
About 500 tons of this pattern were laid in 1844 from Mt. Savage to Cumberland. Later in the same year, rails weighing 52 pounds per yard were rolled here to fulfill an order of a Col. Borden for a line from Fall River to Boston, Mass.
EXHIBIT N0.2705 STATEMENT OF FRANKLIN INSTITUTE 1844
"A bar of railroad iron of the "U" form rolled by the Mt. Savage Iron Works near Frostburg, Md., and forwarded by Col. Young, Manager. This bar is 18 1/2 feet long and weighs 40 Ibs per lineal yard. It is part of a lot of several hundred recently rolled there for a branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad leading to the works. This bar is among the first early rails yet rolled in the United States and it demonstrates beyond the reach of cavil that edge rails can be manufactured in America.
This bar is well proportioned, sound and well finished. It is the first ever exhibited here of American makes, and we hail it with pleasure as the beginning of a new manufacture, and award it a silver medal."
John Weigand Chairman of Committee
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