The History of Locomotives

Created on Dec 01, 2016 by Kathy Pinna
While the history of railway transport (using animals or men) goes back to ancient Greece, trains as we know them now really began making their appearance in the very early 1800's. The steam engine made self-powered transport possible - and our romance with trains began.

James Watt (a Scotsman) patented the design for a steam locomotive in 1784 and his employee, William Murdoch, made a working model of a self-propelled steam carriage soon after. Then, in 1804, an Englishman made a full scale steam locomotive - and a new industry was born. In the United States, 1828 brought the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and railroads played a part in the Industrial Revolution and the settlement of the West. Farms in the Corn Belt even grew up near railroad lines, allowing them to get their products to market more easily.

By 1910 in the U.S., most of a vast railroad system was built but the railways have never regained the supremacy they had in the 1800's. Trucks began hauling produce and cars and planes began carrying passengers. And the invention of the diesel electric locomotive in 1940 led to a further decline in employees of the railroads - these engines were so efficient that fewer workers were needed (on the tracks and in repair shops). Sound like today? Yes, new technology always changes the face of the labor force.

The History of Locomotives

All shiny and new!

Colonel William Crooks and Locomotive

This is Colonel William Crooks with a locomotive named after him.

Women posed with trains

Edna Agatha (Plunkett) St. Clair

And dressed for traveling

M. Mason with friend, Mary Ann Tasker

The train has seen some wear

Raymond A Stamm & Edith Peggy Batson

But the woman is so stylish!

1902 railroad car

Detroit Photographic Co.'s Special

Travelin' in style!

1919 locomotive

The Old 278 Train - Alaska

The "Old 278" ran between Anchorage and Seward, Alaska.


The Burlington Zephyr, 1936

The Burlington Zephyr, 1936

Can you see the train? That's a pile of snow it's stirring up!

Lehigh Valley Railroad train

 Lehigh Valley Railroad train

Between 1900 and 1910

Mexican Central Railway

Mexican Central Railway

Late 1800's

World War 2

War train

Troop train? Sure looks like it from the graffiti!

And then there are fashionable women, standing on locomotives!

Fern (Tackman) Wisthoff, Wisconsin

The men of the railroad

Carsten Stueve

1895 Missouri - can't you hear the song?


I've been working on the railroad . . .

Old railroad picture
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