[Footnote 2: This letter reads:
LIVERPOOL, November 26th, 1830.
GENTLEMEN,—At what rate will you contract to deliver at Liverpool, say from 500 to 600 tons of railway, of the best quality of iron rolled to the above pattern in 12 or 16 feet lengths, to lap as shown in the drawing, with one hole at each end, and the projections on the lower flange at every two feet, cash on delivery?
How soon could you make the first delivery, and at what rate per month until the whole is complete? Should the terms suit and the work give satisfaction a more extended order is likely to follow, as this is but about one-sixth part of the quantity required. Please to address your answer (as soon as convenient) to the care of Francis B. Ogden, Consul of the United States at Liverpool.
Your obedient servant,
ROBERT L. STEVENS,
President and Engineer of the Camden and
South Amboy Railroad and Transportation Company. ]
DIFFICULTY OF ROLLING THE AMERICAN RAIL.
Mr. Stevens received no favorable answer to his proposals, but being acquainted with Mr. Guest (afterward Sir John Guest), a member of Parliament, proprietor of large iron works in Dowlais, Wales, he prevailed upon him to have rails rolled at his works. Mr. Guest became interested in the matter and accompanied Mr. Stevens to Wales, where the latter gave his personal supervision to the construction of the rolls. After the rolls were completed the Messrs. Guest hesitated to have them used, through fear of damage to the mill machinery, upon hearing which Mr. Stevens deposited a handsome sum guaranteeing the expense of repairing the mill in case it was damaged. The receipt for this deposit was preserved for many years among the archives of the Camden and Amboy Company. As a matter of fact, the rolling apparatus did break down several times. “At first,” as Mr. Stevens in a letter to his father, which I have seen, described it, “the rails came from the rolls twisted and as crooked as snakes,” and he was greatly discouraged. At last, however, the mill men acquired the art of straightening the rail while it cooled.
The first shipment, consisting of five hundred and fifty bars eighteen feet long, thirty-six pounds to the yard, arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Charlemagne, May 16, 1831.
Over thirty miles of this rail was laid before the summer of 1832.
A few years after, on much of the Stevens rail laid on the Camden and Amboy Railroad, the rivets at the joints were discarded, and the bolt with the screw thread and nut, similar to that now used, was adopted as the standard.
The rail was first designed to weigh thirty-six pounds per yard, but it was almost immediately increased in weight to between forty and forty-two pounds, and rolled in lengths of sixteen feet. It was then three and a half inches high, two and one-eighth inches wide on the head and three and a half inches wide at the base, the price paid in England being L8 per ton. The import duty was $1.85.