This Day in History
First American Steam Locomotive


First American Steam Locomotive
March 5, 1831

No nation ever expanded as rapidly as the United States, or as vastly. How did it hold together? A network of roads, rivers, and canals, however elaborate, was wholly inadequate. The railroad - invented almost simultaneously in England and America - was the answer. George Stephenson was the steam-operated-locomotive pioneer in Britain, and his Rocket made a first run in 1825; John Stevens, an American, had anticipated the feat by a few months, but only by a trial run on his own estate. By the end of the 1820’s a dozen projects were under way - the Baltimore and Ohio, the Charleston and Hamburg, the Mohawk and Hudson, the Boston and Lowell among them. The first to achieve success was that built by a group of South Carolina industrialists who formed a company to build tracks connecting Charleston with the Savannah River town of Hamburg. They laid down no less than 136 miles of track - the longest railroad in the world at that time. In December 1830, The Best Friend of Charleston made its trial run on the newly built tracks; a few months later, a new and more powerful locomotive, the West Point, also pictured here, pulled out on a trial of speed, with barrier car and four cars for the 117 passengers - 50 of whom were women.





September's Archived Features:

Saturday September 1, 2018
Sunday September 2, 2018
Monday September 3, 2018
Tuesday September 4, 2018
Wednesday September 5, 2018
Thursday September 6, 2018
Friday September 7, 2018
Saturday September 8, 2018
Sunday September 9, 2018
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Tuesday September 11, 2018
Wednesday September 12, 2018
Thursday September 13, 2018
Friday September 14, 2018
Saturday September 15, 2018
Sunday September 16, 2018
Monday September 17, 2018
Tuesday September 18, 2018
Wednesday September 19, 2018
Thursday September 20, 2018
Friday September 21, 2018
Saturday September 22, 2018
Sunday September 23, 2018
Monday September 24, 2018

 

 

 
All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2018. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.