The development of railways marks a
great step in the progress of human civilization. During the 19th
century, railways provided a reliable, low-cost, high volume system of
land transportation. The self guiding system and the low rolling
friction allowed a locomotive of relatively modest horsepower to pull a
long train of cars.
Cities evolved around the railways.
The first trains were steam driven. The steam driven "Iron Horse,
" train was important in the development of our country. In the
United States the first company to build a railroad for passenger
service was the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. They laid the first stone
for a railroad on July 4, 1828. The tiny Tom Thumb steam engine puffed
successfully along the tracks pulling the first passenger train. More
than 40,000 steam engines were built between 1829 and 1949. The last
commercially_built steam engine for a U.S. company was built by the
Baldwin plant in Lima, Ohio. Most of the major railroad companies
retired their steam engines in the mid 1960's. Today steam engines are
found in museums and special events.
Different ways to move trains became
cheaper and more efficient including coal, petroleum, and electricity.
Today’s trains are fueled mainly by diesel and electricity. Trains are
the most inexpensive ways to move large items (i.e. new cars) to their
destination. Many of the early towns were planned around the train