When Were Trains Invented?
Trains have been around for a long time, their invention revolutionized the way of transportation and it fundamentally changed the way we travel and trade.
Before the well known steam trains, the carts were pulled with the help of an animal, using their power to pull full-loaded carts on wooden rail tracks. Most of the animals used for pulling were horses, donkeys, mules.
First trains were invented!
The first train invented was a steam locomotive, back in 1804, Richard Trevithick, an British engineer invented the first full scale steam locomotive, unfortunately his prototype was proved to be way too heavy for its track, even if it pulled 10 tons of freight and 70 passengers at a speed of 5 MPH was not very well received by the public and it was never placed in the revenue service.
Around the 1830s, and 25 years after the Trevithick experiment, the first train was invented in the United States. The Tom Thumb was the first steam locomotive built to operate on a common-carrier railroad. The locomotive production’s main goal was to convince the B&O Railroad to use steam engines.
Unfortunately the locomotive was not preserved since it was not built for revenue service.
Concomitant with the Tom Thumb, another steam train was invented in the United States, called DeWitt Clinton, being the first steam locomotive to operate in New York and the forth to be built in the United States.
Tom Thumb Replica credit
This new invention has been seen with skepticism, being relatively dangerous in the early days, with a greater travel speed than the previous way of transportation, and with a unreliable, new but untested infrastructure the newly invented trains were proved to be unsafe.
One accident that comes to my mind is the one that happened in 1840, when a railroad bridge collapsed under the weight of the Canajoharie and Catskill Railroad train en route from Catskill, New York to Cairo, New York. One person was killed and several others were injured.
As more and more people started to use the newly invented trains, the rate of accidents increased.
On December 28, 1876 a train carrying 159 passengers, was involved in one of the deadliest accidents of the 19th century, while crossing a railroad bridge, the bridge collapsed and killed 98 passengers. Soon after it was proved that the bridge had a design flaw, which made two of the designers to commit suicide.
Most of these atrocities were happening as a result of a lack in government oversight, fast expansion, using fast and cheap techniques.
So when were the trains invented?
As you noticed, the answer is not as clear as we might think. With many experiments happening concomitant, with failures and successes, tagging an year for when the trains were invented would not be correct nor accurate.
If we look at it from a legal point of view, for example, when were the first train patents released? We can tag a year with accuracy which is 1802, the year when Trevithick and Vivian received the patent for the world’s first steam locomotive.