Facts on the First Steam Locomotive

Locomotives have developed drastically in strength and efficiency since its inception in the early 1800s.

The world is partially dependent on the power of engines. Today, engines are exceedingly complicated. They can run airplanes, take cars over 220 miles per hour and can carry heavy loads across the nation; this is owed to the development of the first steam locomotive. The first steam engine was developed in United Kingdom.; however, the first American steam engine came about in 1830 and revolutionized transportation forever.

1 Story Behind the First American Locomotive

The world's first steam locomotive was developed in 1804 in the United Kingdom; America's first major steam engine came in 1830. There was economic and political pressure behind the conception. In 1830 Baltimore was and still is one of the United States most important ports. However, when plans were developed for a canal that would connect the Chesapeake Bay and the Ohio River, Baltimore leaders where frightened. As a result the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was invented. This would still keep Baltimore as a major shipping center.

Charles Carroll, the Maryland syndicate decided that the railroad was to be pulled by horses and stretch from Maryland to the Ohio River and westward. Leaders and engineers learned that animal power would not suffice, therefor Tom Thumb, the nickname of America's first locomotive, was created.

2 Maiden Voyage

Tom Thumb’s maiden voyage took place in August of 1830. The journey was a total 26 miles from Baltimore to Ellicott’s Mill and then back again — 13 miles each way. The inventors tested its pulling ability by attaching a passenger car that held 18 people. It made the first 13 miles in 85 minutes and made the journey back in 57 minutes.

3 Specs

Tom Thumb was 12 feet 9 inches in height and a little over 13 feet in length. A worker loaded the chamber with anthracite coal. The boiler was 66 inches tall and it was 27 inches in diameter. It originally averaged 10 to 16 mph.

4 Historic Race

An important event with the Tom Thumb helped change history. Skeptics of the steam locomotive challenged it with a race between pulling horses. The race occurred on August 28, 1830. It would scale the newly built railroad addition to the B&O railroad. The journey was 26 miles in total, 13 miles one way and 13 miles the other. In the beginning, the engine pulled away from the horses until a valve blew in the engine, not allowing adequate engine function. The horse drawn vehicle ended up winning the race. However, due to the strength of the locomotive's start and the fixable issue in the engine, skeptics realized the power and potential strength of Tom Thumb, paving the way for more locomotives.

Nicholas Ramos was born in Washington, D.C. He is currently a journalism major in Georgia and plans to specialize in law. Ramos has been writing since 2009, specializing in fashion, travel and health.