Popular Topics

See all photos



Holidays & Special Events

Historic Events


Wars & Conflicts


Photograph Types


Trains and Locomotives

Trains, engineers, railroad workers, passengers, depots, and spectacular tracks and bridges - these photos of steam and diesel powered transportation are from the 19th and 20th centuries. Read more >>

Since the invention of the first steam train in 1804, trains have created massive cultural changes: They have changed the way we travel, the work we do, and even the food we eat. They are also a romantic and beautiful way to travel. But more than the fascination that trains hold for us, there are some practical changes that the railroads have created in our lexicon and daily life.

Consider these early facts about trains:
  • The term "horsepower" was created in the late 1700's as a way to market locomotives. Although the measurement is questionable, marketing how many horses were replaced by one locomotive made an impression on the public.

  • The first steam engine in the US was beaten by a horse drawn train in a race - but not because the horses were faster. It was because the engine broke down part way through the race - a belt broke - and the horse drawn train crossed the finish line.

  • The death of a President promoted train travel: After Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, his body traveled by train to Illinois with a Pullman car as part of the cortege. Then Mary Lincoln traveled the same route in a Pullman car loaned to her. Front page news of the tour with pictures of the Pullman car popularized the comfort of train travel. After the death of George Pullman, the creator of the Pullman car, Lincoln's eldest son became head of the Pullman Palace Car Company.

  • Even the creation of travel agencies owe their start to trains: An English Baptist minister arranged for travel - by train - and meals for 504 of his parishioners to a temperance meeting in 1873. The trip was successful so he expanded operations throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. The travel agency Thomas Cook and Son was born. They still publish an international train timetable.

  • Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific Time owe their start to trains: The use of innumerable local times wreaked havoc on train schedules. In 1883, leaders of the major railroads met at the General Time Convention and decided on 4 time zones in the U.S. - Great Britain had already created a unified time 36 years earlier. On November 18th, the time zones were established and used but it took another 35 years for Congress to make them law - along with Daylight Savings Time.

These are the photos of locomotives, railways, railroad workers, and passengers from the beginning of the railroad industry through the 20th century. << Read less
My grandmother, Fern Tackman (noted by the "X"), and some girlfriends
People in this photo:
Fern (Tackman) Wisthoff
Jan 30, 1903 - Aug 12, 1997
Neenah, WI
Earl Scott Ekleberry in front of train he operated.
People in this photo:
My grandfather James Henry Eager 1883-1962. Worked for the Erie Railroad from 1906-1954. He is the engineer.
People in this photo:
A photo of Alexander Mitchell Palmer getting on a train.
People in this photo:
Photograph from the main eastern theater of war, the siege of Petersburg, June-1864-April 1865.
This photo of a damaged locomotive was taken in 1865 in Richmond Virginia. I believe (could be wrong!) this to be a steam powered locomotive that was badly damaged during the Civil War. This train closely resembles the Farm Locomotive Engine which took 3 operators to run and that began to become available in 1860. To put the date into perspective, in 1840 there were just 4500 miles of railway around the world. By 1910 there were over 130,000 global railway miles. If you have additional information on this locomotive please leave a comment! *UPDATE*: Thanks to all of the community for chiming in on this one! It looks as though we have a few more details: * It is likely that this particular locomotive was designed and built by Tredegar Iron Works located in Richmond, Virginia. A division of the Tredegar Iron Works, the Tredegar Locomotive Works, produced approximately 70 steam locomotives between 1850 and 1860. - Submitted by Cathy Davis * As far as I can tell it was used by the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad company. On a Wikipedia page, there is a photo of a very similar locomotive showing more damage to it. It's my suspicion that the photo you have was from when the Union forces attacked Richmond and the locomotive sheds suffered a huge fire. If you take a look at the sleepers under the rails of the loco, they appear to be charred and burned. The loco is also showing signs of extreme rust, but none of the surfaces have paint on - this indicates extreme fire and exposure to moisture. Otherwise surfaces such as the wheels should have paint at the tops where they are somewhat protected from the elements etc. I have a book with a picture of this type of locomotive on it, being used at the Depot of the U.S. Military Railroad, at Centre Point, Virginia, around the time of the civil war. Although the book is too big to scan properly, and the photo is in an odd spot. As best I can tell the loco was built by Schenectady in New York, around the late 19th Century. Links to checkout: http://uk.ask.com/wiki/Richmond_and_Petersburg_Railroad http://uk.ask.com/wiki/Schenectady_Locomotive_Works - Submitted by Nick Henderson * it is a VERY early 4-4-0 wheel type steam locomotive (4 leading wheels,4 driving wheels,0 trailing) the cylinders and valve gear as well as driving rods were in the inboard side of the wheels on this locomotive, this make general maintenance a difficult proposition.does not appear that there was ever a cab on this locomotive either.later 4-4-0 locomotives became the standard wheel arrangement on most American railways,and this is a direct forbear of this type. - Submitted by Richard Burdick
A photo of William Henry Jackson seated at table. Probably in Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad car.
People in this photo:
A photo of Otto Baumgartner in his train conductor uniform which he wore conducting a Swiss passenger train through the Swiss alps
People in this photo:
Otto Baumgartner
Jan 16, 1898 - July 1977
San Francisco, California
Taken about 19 years after Al Scoffone started his business with one truck, this photo shows Al and his crew removing an old locomotive steam engine from the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is believed the locomotive was headed to the home of famed Southern Pacific railroad engineer Billy Jones, who used to work the rail line in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
People in this photo:
Al Scoffone
1924 - Mar 6, 2006
Monte Sereno, CA, United States
A snapshot of the railroad depot in Alta Loma, Texas. Message on the back probably written by Earl Nelson "Santa Fe R. R. Depot that was in Alta Loma when we moved here in 1914, Here shown with a new paint job"
People in this photo:
Fred Nelson
Apr 9, 1875 - Jun 3, 1933
My grandfather, James Henry Eager sometime before 1954 - Marion, Ohio - Erie Railroad
People in this photo:
A photo of a group of unknown individuals
A photo of a group of unknown people.
A photo of Phineas Gage in 1850, holding the tamping iron that caused his brain injury. He was a construction foreman (in charge of blasting) on the railroad, age 27, when an accidental early explosion occurred. The explosion drove a tamping iron (large iron rod, 1.25 inches in diameter) into his head. A large part of his left frontal lobe was destroyed. After the accident, with the bar still in his head, it is reported that he sat up, talked, and walked to a wagon. Sitting in the wagon for the 3/4 mile ride into town, he was seen by a doctor. The doctor said: "When I drove up he said, "Doctor, here is business enough for you." I first noticed the wound upon the head before I alighted from my carriage, the pulsations of the brain being very distinct. The top of the head appeared somewhat like an inverted funnel, as if some wedge-shaped body had passed from below upward. Mr. Gage, during the time I was examining this wound, was relating the manner in which he was injured to the bystanders. I did not believe Mr. Gage's statement at that time, but thought he was deceived. Mr. Gage persisted in saying that the bar went through his head. Mr. G. got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out about half a teacupful of the brain [through the exit hole at the top of the skull], which fell upon the floor." The doctor removed some coagulated blood, some of the protruding brain, and some skull (bone) fragments, then bandaged his head and cheek. Gage survived but his personality and temperament were changed. Later in his life, some social skills and personal skills returned and he worked as a stagecoach driver in Chile and later as a farmworker in Santa Clara County, California. He died of an epileptic seizure (which was being treated by bleeding) in San Francisco, CA on May 21, 1860 at age 37.
People in this photo:
Phineas Gage
1823 - May 21, 1860
A photo of Walter Powell at Pike's Peak - Train trip with group of people to Pike's Peak - Walter Powell is 5th from right
People in this photo:
Walter Powell
Aug 13, 1891 - May 1973
Rapid City, SD
A photo of Grandpa Pierre Elmer Weyer. He was working on the railroad during the years he lived in So. Dakota .
People in this photo:
Pierre Elmer Weyer
Apr 14, 1881 - Jul 18, 1958
A photo of Colonel William Crooks with his namesake steam locomotive
People in this photo:
William Crooks, Jr.
Jun 20, 1832 - Dec 17, 1907
A photo of Edna Agatha (Plunkett) St. Clair
People in this photo:
Edna Agatha (Plunket) St. Clair
Mar 28, 1893 - Aug 30, 1990
A photo of Louis Joseph Brice ... près de sa locomotive fin XIX (conducteur de train)
People in this photo:
A photo of Richard B Crippen on a train.
People in this photo:
Richard B Crippen
Nov 18, 1916 - Aug 11, 1956
Toledo, OH, United States
A photo of the train station for the train that took vacationers to Mineral Springs Resort
A photo of Railroadmen in Missouri, USA. The first man from the right side is my great- grandfather Carsten Stueve, born 1866 and died 1940. The photo had been made about 1895.
People in this photo:
Carsten Stueve
Jun 23, 1866 - Jan 22, 1940
A photo of Raymond A Stamm & Edith Peggy Batson: My grandma Peggy with my grandpa Ray, probably in St. Louis Missouri
People in this photo:
A photo of a Pothan woman in front of a train
An old railroad photo of a group of men. This photo has been in the family for a long time and was taken in Illinois.
Carriages being transported by railroad
People in this photo:
Harold Francis Bergan
around Dec 31, 1899 - Nov 6, 1965
Frank Risor mined for Silver in the California mountains 1890's
People in this photo:
A photo of the Erie RR crew near Uniondale,Wells,IN 1913Taken 1913 Uniondale,Wells,IN l-r Robert Scott,James Forrest Harris,Charles E. Harris,William Henry Burnside,Robert Bartholmew,Elmer Dewey Harris,Joseph H. Harris,Clarence Keller,Kirk Dilworth Harris,George Miller,Ross Strausbaugh & Fred Bailey
People in this photo:
Erie RR crew near Uniondale,Wells,IN 1913: Taken 1913 Uniondale,Wells,IN back l-r William Henry Burnside,Kirk Dilworth Harris,Clarence Keller,unknown,Charles E. Harris & Ross Strausbaugh front l-r Joseph H. Harris,James Forrest Harris,George Miller,Fred Bailey,Elmer Dewey Harris,Robert Bartholmew & Robert Scott
People in this photo:
Taken 1913 Uniondale,Wells,IN back l-r Kirk Dilworth Harris,Elmer Dewey Harris,William Henry Burnside,Robert Bartholmew & Joseph H. Harris front l-r unknown,unknown,unknown & unknown
People in this photo:
A photo of Robert Bartholmew and Robert Scott taken 1913 Uniondale, Wells, Indiana l-r Robert Bartholmew & Robert Scott, Railroad crew 1913
People in this photo:
Three Chicago Heights, Illinois Postcards (of the train station, the high school, and City Hall) from the 1920's.
Deshler Train Depot as it sits today in Deshler, Henry County, Ohio. Located on the now CSX Line. Was the B&O Line and a stop for the Capitol Limited.
Charles E Yarnall at the Pennsylvania Railroad Enola Yards
People in this photo:
Charles E Yarnall (At Arrow)
Born: Nov 11, 1884
This is a photo of Train shed, Railroad Street, Savannah, Chatham County,... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
This is a photo of Georgia Central Railway Bridge, Railroad Street,... added by Ancient Faces on January 11, 2012.
Back to Top