3 July 2007



  • 1630 - A man named Beaumont laid rails on a highway in England to transport coal from the Newcastle mines. This is the first railroad known in history.
  • 1765 - James Watt constructed his first steam engine at the Corson Iron Works, Glasgow, Scotland.
  • 1776 - The first iron rails, of which we have a complete account, were cast with a perpendicular ledge instead of the flange on modern wheels.
  • 1801 - A short line of track for a horse railroad was laid between Wandsworth and Croydon in the suburbs of London - the first chartered railroad on record.
  • 1804 - The first attempt to utilize steam power on a railroad was made by a Cornishman named Trevithick, who ran a locomotive attached to several wagons in South Wales.
  • 1827 - The first American railroad, from Quincy, Massachusetts, to the Neponset River, was completed.
  • 1828 - Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, laid, on July 4, the first rail of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
  • 1829 - The Stourbridge Lion, the first steam locomotive ever seen in America, had its trial trip over the line of the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Railroad Company. In England, Stephenson's locomotive, The Rocket, won the prize of $2,500 offered by the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.
  • 1830 - The first section of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, fifteen miles in length, was opened. Over it Peter Cooper ran his little locomotive, Tom Thumb, to prove that engines could be used on curves. The Best Friend, the first locomotive built in America for actual service, began regularly to haul freight on the South Carolina Railroad.
  • 1842 - The whole of the Boston and Albany was completed, the first road to be operated as an important through route. The New York Central route to Buffalo was opened, though the various companies along the line were not consolidated until eleven years later.
  • 1844 - With the aid of the government, Professor Morse built his pioneer telegraph line between Baltimore and Washington.
  • 1846 - The Pennsylvania Railroad was chartered.
  • 1853 - Eleven railroads were consolidated into the New York Central.
  • 1854 - The Mississippi River was first reached by the Chicago and Rock Island Road.
  • 1858 - Railroad building was pushed as far West as the Missouri River, the Hannibal and St. Joseph reaching that river.
  • 1868 - George Westinghouse invented the air-brake.
  • 1869 - The Union and Central Pacific lines were joined, making a through railroad route from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
  • 1870 - The Chicago and Omaha pool was formed, the first pool on a large scale in the history of American railroading.
  • 1887 - The Interstate Commerce Commission was established to have supervision over railroad rates.
  • 1901 - The Northern Securities Company was organized to control the transcontinental railroads.
  • 1904 - The United States Supreme Court, by a decision of five to four, held that the Northern Securities Company was in restraint of trade and was therefore illegal.
  • 1906 - The Hepburn bill was passed by Congress, increasing the size and powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission.