And, you'd have to go to Greenfield Village
to see a locomotive like this one
What a scene! And, it's a marketing photo, promoting many features of Bluffton, as you will see by reading further.
You are watching a Lake Erie and Western Railroad freight passing Bluffton.
Believed to be class N-7 (later E-41) 2-6-0 built by Brooks in 1891-92, this freight, coming from Findlay, accelerates after crossing the Northern Ohio Railroad. The locomotive had 57-inch driver wheels and weighed 98,000 pounds.
• On the far right is a water tower for the locomotives near today's Railroad Street. • The Bluffton power plant quarry (now Steinmetz Field) is on the left. • Also visible is the original Bluffton water tower. • The town hall and Presbyterian Church towers are in the distance.
There’s more to this photo Will Triplett, the photograph artistically framed the smoke from the locomotive to highlight the water tower and town hall.
Triplett makes an important statement in this photo: Bluffton has a water system. That means it offers fire protection to buildings and running water to businesses and residences. Not every small town in northwestern Ohio had a water system when this photo was taken – he was bragging.
He also made a special point to make the town hall to stand out. It’s another impressive point to make about the village – that there is a large town hall and clock tower visible where ever you stand.
We can’t see the reverse side of the large white post along the left side of the track. It’s a mile post, indicating the number of miles to the end of the line. When this photo was taken, the end of the line may have been in Muncie, or Frankfort, Indiana.
In our attempt to place a date to this photo, we know the town hall was built in 1887, the locomotive was built in 1891or 92. But the real way to date this is to realize that the water plant went into operation in 1896.
This print is from an 8 by 10 glass negative. That means in modern terms this photo could be enlarged on the wall of a building and still be very much in focus.
If I were the photographer, I’d have wanted to take a photo of the water tower shortly after it went into operation. My best guess for a date is 1896 or ’97.
Make certain you examine the photo enlargements below. The first photo shows the engineer wearing a cap, watching what is ahead down the track.