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Mar 29, 2009

Railroads & Trains (Locomotives)

Did you know...

Wagonways or Roads of Rails, as they were also called, were being used in Germany as early as 1550.
These primitive railed roads (what we now call railroads or railways) were made of wooden rails over which horse-drawn wagons, carts and carriages were pulled with greater ease than over dirt roads, were the beginnings of our modern railroads.

Iron replaced the wood in the rails and the wheels on the carts by 1776. The Wagonways soon became known as Tramways, which spread though out Europe. Even with the new rails horses still provided all the pulling power. It was kinda tricky keeping the wheels on the rails. Then in 1789 an Englishman, William Jessup, designed flanged wheels. The flange was a groove that allowed the wheels to better grip the rail, this was an important design that carried over to our modern locomotives today.

The invention of the steam engine in 1699 by Thomas Savery, was critical to the invention of the modern railroad and trains. In 1769 Frenchman Nicholas Cugnot builds a steam carriage. In 1803, a man named Samuel Homfray decided to fund the development of a steam-powered vehicle to replace the horse-drawn carts on the tramways. Richard Trevithick (1771-1833) built that vehicle, the first steam engine tramway locomotive. On February 22, 1804, the locomotive hauled a load of 10 tons of iron, 70 men and five extra wagons the 9 miles between the ironworks at Pen-y-Darron in the town of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales to the bottom of the valley called Abercynnon. It took about two hours.

The very first passenger train ran from Swansea to Mumbles (Wales) on March 25th,1807 .


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