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The Little Engine that could (and did)

You have probably noticed the odd-looking little locomotive sitting on the side track at the museum, and wondered about its history and reason for being on exhibit. The plaques on its side tell part of the story, but there is more to be learned about the Dinky’s history and its relationship with Hoover Dam.

The main portion of the dam had been completed and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, the year before the Dinky was built in Iowa by the Davenport Locomotive Works. It was purchased new by the Department of the Interior for use in transporting materials from Boulder City to the dam site to complete the construction and installation of the turbines and generators. (Its ownership was later transferred to the Bureau of Reclamation.) It continued in this capacity until 1946, when the Army purchased a larger Whitcomb locomotive to replace it after the World War II restrictions were relaxed.

Upon its retirement from its regular trips to the dam, the Dinky was taken to Henderson Industrial Park, where it was numbered as #1051. Sometime in the mid-1980s, it was acquired by Robert Dieleman’s father and taken to Jake’s Crane and Rigging in LasVegas. It was stored there until June, 2003, whenRobert, then owner of the Dinky, donated it to the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum.

As can be seen in the picture above (page 1), the locomotive was in no condition to be placed on display on its arrival in Boulder City. Thanks to great efforts by John Orth other museum volunteers, it was refurbished and repainted to its present condition. The Dinky has a gasoline engine which is not in running condition, and there are no current plans to repair it. It is certainly an integral part of Boulder City and Hoover Dam’s history, however, and as such is well worthy of inclusion as part of the museum’s artifacts.

The Davenport locomotive Company

The locomotive was built by The Davenport Locomotive Works of Davenport, Iowa.  Davenport built locomotives from 1902 until 1956.  The company started out building small steam locomotives including some used in cement plants which would make the cement used to build Hoover Dam.  In 1924, the Davenport Locomotive Works built the first gasoline-fueled internal combustion locomotive and, in 1927, its first diesel powered locomotive.

Most of the locomotives built by Davenport were used in industrial settings but some mainline railroads also bought Davenport locomotives, particularly the 44-ton size, which was the largest locomotive operated by one man, per union rules.  Railroad buyers included the Rock Island, Milwaukee Road, 

Santa Fe, Frisco, and Missouri Pacific.  In 1963, that rule was relaxed, and railroads ceased buying industrial-sized locomotives for light switching.

Davenport built a number of locomotives for the United States Army, during both World Wars  In World War I, Davenport was one of three builders who supplied locomotive for the 2’ gauge trench railways, In World War II they supplied the United States Army Transportation Corps (USATC) S-100 Class 0-6-0  switching locomotives.  for World War II, and 18 larger switchers used during the 1950s.  Two of these switchers were adjustable in gauge – one could operate on broad gauges up to 5 ft. 6 in., and one on narrow gauges.

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