Matthias Forney {Famous Pennsylvanians}

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Matthias Forney

Matthias Forney, an American steam locomotive designer, was born March 28, 1835, in Hanover, Pennsylvania. He is most famous for his design of the Forney locomotive. Locomotives that Forney designed ran on New York City’s elevated railroads for many years.

As a young man, Forney apprenticed with Ross Winans, a well-known locomotive builder. He spent most of his life designing and building locomotives while employed by various railroad companies:

  • Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O)–1855-1858
  • Illinois Central Railroad–about 1861-1864
  • Hinkley Locomotive Works–1865-1870

While working for the Illinois Central Railroad, Forney patented the first Forney locomotive, an 044-T.

Forney 044 Locomotive

Forney 044 locomotive

A Forney 044-T locomotive is on display at the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver, Colorado. The museum was founded by J.D. Forney, Matthias Forney’s second cousin. (Learn more about the Forney 044-T locomotive.)

Matthias Forney also authored the book Catechism of the Locomotive, first published in 1874. This book was considered an authoritative work on steam locomotive construction in the late 1800s.

Catechism of the Locomotive by Matthias Forney

Cover of Matthias Forney’s book, Catechism of the Locomotive

Forney later became an associate editor for the Railroad Gazette and quickly gained a reputation for being an expert in steam locomotive theory. He died January 14, 1908 in New York, New York.

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