The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad No. 999 was a 4-4-0 (4 leading, 4 driving, and 0 trailing wheels) steam engine that, passengers claimed, surpassed 100mph before 1900. This claim is likely false though. It’s other contenders for the first to attain a speed of 100mph are City of Truro and Flying Scotsman. This is the first of a three-part series covering the three contenders for the first to attain 100mph.
The designers tried to enlarge the driving wheels from 70in to 86in to try and make this record. The train likely never came to 100mph for many reasons though. First and foremost, there were no data sets recorded when people claimed the train had reached its top speed of 112.5mph on May 10, 1893, thus rendering this claim to be put in question. Second, trains made several years later with more wheels, larger pistons, and more maximum steam pressure couldn’t reach 100mph. Third, the train was not made in any aerodynamic fashion. Neither was Flying Scotsman who currently holds the record for first train to 100mph. City of Truro had some curves in its design but was also a 4-4-0 design. When passengers with recording devices embarked and timed the run and distance, they found that the train had reached a maximum speed of 81mph. This is quite far from the claim of 112.5mph.
Its retirement was not different than the reason other steam locomotives were force to retire, diesel-electrics. It is currently on display in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. 4-4-0s are a common type of locomotive of America. They are the trains at the end of the Transcontinental Railroad and are considered the “American Train”. However, this 4-4-0 and City of Truro who is also a 4-4-0, will be remembered forever as a contender for the most prominent title of first locomotive to reach 100mph. It never made it to that speed, but it would have been incredible if a train could do that before 1900.