Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Sand Dome on a Steam Engine

Detailed Description

Steam engines used high-grade silica sand for traction on the rails. Sand was stored in a dome on top of the engine and, as the train traveled the tracks, the sand would be sprinkled down pipes to land on the tracks in front of the wheels. This would aid the wheels in gripping the tracks, especially when the rails were wet. Here the pipe that takes the sand to the wheels can be seen.


Public Domain.