History of Trains

The development of steam trains in the 19th century brought a transformation to the world because they could carry people as well as goods at unprecedented speeds across the globe. The Baltimore & Ohio, the first steam powered train opened in 1830 and today, more than 180 years later railroads are still playing a major role in people’s lives. The history of trains is very fascinating and from the early steam locomotives to the high speed bullets trains we have in our modern times, here are a few interesting things you should add to your knowledge.

The term “horsepower” was initially a marketing tool

James Watt might not have created the steam engine but he created the first modern one then developed a means to measure its power. The earlier design required constant cooling and re-heating, which wasted a lot of energy, do Watt added a condenser that made things easier. He calculated how much one horse in a mill could produce over a certain period of time and dubbed the result horsepower. Using those results, he came up with a calculated result that indicated how many horses it would take to replace an engine.

The first train lost a race to a horse.

The Baltimore & Ohio, the diet company to transport people struggled to produce an engine that would travel over rough or uneven terrain. An industrialist named Peter Cooper decided to design an engine that would handle those tough terrains. The train was named “Tom Thumb” and as it was undergoing testing, a horse drawn train challenged Cooper to a race and he accepted. The steam engine took the lead but somewhere on the way broke loose and the horse crossed the line first.

Trains contributed to the victory of the American Civil War.

Throughout the war, transportation of soldiers as well as heavy artillery became easier with the use of trains. Actually, trains played a major role in the transportation of 20,000 troops that were badly needed in the battle of Chickamauga in Sep 1863. This was the fastest and longest troop movement in the 19th century because they moved from Washington D.C to Georgia, which is 1,200 miles in 11 days.

The world’s first travel agency is attributed to a train trip

A Baptist minister named Thomas Cook organized a train excursion in 1841 for 540 parishioners to attend a meeting in London. He negotiated a set fare for all passengers including tickets and meals and the trip was such a success that he expanded the operations. He went from the UK to the US and Europe providing passengers with packages that included tickets, meals as well as accommodation. By 1873, his agency, now named Thomas Cook and Son, has an international railway timetable and by 1890, they were selling over 8 million rail tickets annually.


There are numerous more facts that make the history of trains so much more interesting like the fact that by now, bullet trains can go at a speed of up to 300 mph. It has been such a beautiful journey, one that inventors are still advancing with the use of technology.

Thanks to the Escondido Tree Removal pros for helping me out this week — a huge tree fell down in my yard and I would never have been able to post this if I had to deal with it myself. You guys rock!