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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Torch, Inspection
Catalog #: 2002.0075.10, Accession #: 2002.0075
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Kerosene torch used by a steam locomotive inspector.
Physical Description
Kerosene inspection torch. Dimenisions: 16" x 7" x 4" Material: Metal, wick
Date Made:
ca. 1920s
Dates Used:
1840s - 1950s
A common form of inspection torch.
Gift of National Park Service

Part of a small array of hand tools displayed in "America On The Move" - such tools were used in the inspection and repair of steam locomotives. Light repairs on steam locomotives were usually done in roundhouses at the many small locomotive terminals throughout a railroad's system; heavy repairs were done in a large, centralized repair shop serving the whole system (often referred to as the "Back Shop"). Most of these tools date from the early- to the mid-20th century, roughly 1900-1955.

In the days before flashlights, kerosene-fueled inspection "torches" like this one were used to inspect parts of a steam locomotive when natural light was inadequate.

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