Steam Locomotive

No.7101 Benkei

Class 7100

1880 - 1952 (Class 7100)
1880 - 1924 (No.7101 Benkei)

The Benkei steam locomotive was the first used on Hokkaido's railroad system.

Hokkaido is the northernmost island in Japan. It had a different culture compared to the mainland until the 19th century.
Japanese national seclusion ended and a new government style was established. Hokkaido also began a new reclamation. The mainland's new technologies were from the UK, but Hokkaido's new technologies were from the US.

Hokkaido's Railway
birthplace monument
Temiya in Otaru city during Jun 1988

Benkei at Temiya depot in Otaru
during it's imported year 1880

Hokkaido's first railroad was planned for the purpose of transporting coal to the mainland via the Tsugaru strait. Therefore construction began under the mentorship of American supervision.
The railroad was constructed from the embarkation port city of Otaru to the coal mine town of Horonai. The railroad was named the Government Horonai Railway. And then, it was partly opened between Otaru and Sapporo during January 1880.

At the opening time, two 2-6-0 Tender steam locomotives were imported from the American builder H.K. Porter Inc (manufacturing serial numbers 368 and 369). These two engines received nicknames, which followed the American locomotive tradition. No.1 was "Yoshitsune" and No.2 was "Benkei". These names were from twelfth century popular historical characters.
A total of eight engines were imported until 1889, and their manufactured numbers were 487, 488, 643, 672, 1009 and 1010.

During 1889, Horonai Railway was transferred to the private railway company "Hokkaido Tanko Tetsudo Company" with locomotives and cars.
Hokkaido Tetsudo renamed the above engines to Class A No.1-6 and 9-10 (later No.9 to No.8, No.10 to No.7), and later to Class "I" ("I" is actually pronounced "E" in Japanese.) But at this time, new numbers were assigned irrespective of original numbers. This has bewildered many railroad historians. Also many numbering mistakes were made when later preserved at museums.

Hokkaido Tanko Tetsudo was nationalized in October 1906. Nationalized No.1-8 were renamed to Class 7100, No.7100-7107, when class names were revised during 1906. Around this time, 7100 retired to private life and rented to building office etc .....

For more details please consult the following biographic data chart.

Class 7100 Comparative Chart

Horonai Tetsudo Number Year Manufactured Manufacturing Number Nickname Hokkaido Tanko
Tetsudo Number
After 1906
Class 7100's No.
JGR Retired year After retirement
1 1880 368 Yoshitsune 1 -> 5? 7105 1923 Transferred Umebachi-Syaryo, 1952 Returned to JNR, Restotred in Naebo workshop,Transferred to Takatori, Exhibited in Osaka Transportation Museum since 1991
2 1880 369 Benkei 2 -> 1? 7101 1924 Be given below chart
3 1882 487 Hirafu 3 7103 1922 Transferred to Yuni-Kido ? missing
4 1882 488 Mitsukuni 4 7104 1923 Transferred Umebachi-Syaryo,1926 Kochi-Tetsudo ? Scrapped
5 1884 643 Nobuhiro 5 -> 2? 7102 1923 Transferred Hokkaido Construction office, 1950 retired and scrapped
6 1885 672 Shizuka 6 7106 1917 Transferred Muroran-Seiko Co, Sept 1952 retired and restored in Naebo workshop,1962 exhibited Otaru museum
9 1889 1009 --- 8 7107 1923 Transferred Hokkaido Construction office, 1950 retired and scrapped
10 1889 1010 --- 7 7100 1923 Transferred Hokkaido Construction office, 1950 retired and scrapped

ex-No.6 "Shizuka"

Otaru museum 1988.

No.7105 "Yoshitsune"
During Umebachi-Shyaryo year of 1936.
(Photo credit to K.Nishio).

Benkei at Manseibashi Museum
during her first exhibited year 1940.
(Photo credit to K.Nishio).

No.2 Benkei was retired during August 1923, and it was sent to Tokyo from Hokkaido in mistake for No.1 "Yoshitsune". However, there was a great Kanto earthquake in Tokyo at 1st of September 1923, therefore Benkei was stuck on midway's station until 1936.
During 1937, name was corrected a wrong from Yoshitsune to Benkei, She (actual Benkei was a ryhefty guy) was restored to original shape in Omiya workshop, and during 1940, Benkei was opened to the public at the Manseibashi Railroad Museum.
During October 1958, Benkei was designated a Railway Monument.
October 2007, she was moved to Saitama with the museum relocation.

No.2 Benkei Biographic Data Chart

Date Location Application
Apr 1880 H.K. Porter Inc Sil No.369 Manufacture
Apr - Jun 1880 New York to Otaru via Yokohama Shipping
Nov 1880 Poronai Rail way No.2 Deployment
Dec 1889 Hokkaido Tanko Tetsudo No.2 Transferred
1900 ? Hokkaido Tanko Tetsudo No.1 ? Renumbered
(component replacement ?)
Oct 1906 Government Railway No.1 ? Nationalized
Oct 1909 Class 7100 No.7101 Renamed
Mar 1911 Hokkaido construction office, Abashiri line
Sept 1911 Shimo-Furano line
Apr 1914 Soya line
May 1916 Yubetsu line
Sept 1917 Nemuro line
Jan 1923 Kushiro Construction Bureau ?
Aug 1923 To Omiya works Transferred
01 Sep 1923 - 1939 Kuroiso Safekeeping
28 Feb 1924 JGR (On paper, Sapporo) Deregistered
Dec 1936 - 1939 Omiya works Restoration
1940 Manseibashi Railway Museum Exhibited
Oct 2007 Saitama Railway Museum Moved

Porter's Yoshitsune & Benkei manufacturing note. (1880)

The Kaitakushi passenger car (1880 - 1923)

Hooked to the rear with Benkei No.2 in the museum, this passenger car is the "Kaitakushi".
This car was one of the eight imported passenger cars in Hokkaido. It was imported together with the Benkei and Yoshitsune steam locomotives during 1880.
This car was manufactured from Harlan and Hollingsworth Co. in the US. The imported eight passenger cars were ; Special class - 1 car, 1st class - 2 cars, 1st class with luggage room - 2 cars and 2nd class - 3 cars. Of these cars, Special class car No.1 earned the nickname of "Kaitakushi". The name "Kaitakushi" was Hokkaido's first governmental development agency.

Kaitakshi during 1880s
This car was used as the Royal-Train when Emperor Meiji made his first progression to Hokkaido on the 30th of August 1881. (Japanese used the word "progression" at that time as a term of respect )
After that, it was used for visitation purposes by government officials of the Hokkaido Development Agency etc.

During 1889, the passenger cars were transferred to the Hokkaido Tanko Tetsudo Co with locomotives. But the situation was again reversed in 1906, so Kaitakushi was returned back to the Government Railway. No.1 was renamed to Class KoToKu-5010 during 1906. Afterwards, it was only used as a special vehicle. And KoToKu-5010 remained at Sapporo depot with almost no remodeling.

During 1923, KoToKu-5010 was moved to Tokyo's Oi royal car shed for safekeeping.
And later moved and exhibited at Manseibashi Transportation Museum during 1948.
It was designated a Railway Monument during October 1961.
During 1967 and 1989, it was reconstructed to it's original shape. And Kaitakushi was moved to Saitama's new Railway Museum with Benkei during October 2007.


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