Home Today Years Ago September 15, 1981: John Bull Becomes Oldest Operable Steam Locomotive
September 15, 1981: John Bull Becomes Oldest Operable Steam Locomotive
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September 15, 1981: John Bull Becomes Oldest Operable Steam Locomotive

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Today in 1981, the British-built John Bull steam locomotive became the oldest operable steam locomotive in history when the Smithsonian Institute fired it up for the locomotive’s 150 year anniversary. The John Bull was built in 1831 and was operated for the first time on September 15 of the same year in Bordentown, New Jersey, USA. It saw many ownership transfers over the years, but is now on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.