Monday, January 9, 2017

B & O horse-powered train ... treadmill 1830

During the first years of railroads, the train cars were propelled by sail HERE, horse, and then, steam engines.  Initially horses were on the track pulling the train like a wagon, but for a short trial, horses were riding along, walking on "an endless apron or belt" connected to the wheels.  Another sketch shows passengers riding beside the horse.  The B&O horse car did not last long, especially an early trip with the "cowed editors" of various newspapers.  How were they cowed?  The train hit a cow, the car rolled down the embankment and "after countless bad jokes being perpetrated on the cowed editors, passed out of existence, and probably out of mind." 

Initially, trains were pulled by horses -

"a competitor that steam had to contend with on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was "horse-power." A horse was placed in a car and made to walk on an endless apron or belt, and to communicate motion to the wheels, as in the horse-power machines of the present day. The machine worked indifferently well; but, on one occasion, when drawing a car filled with editors and other representatives of the press, it ran into a cow, and the passengers, having been tilted out and rolled down an embankment, were naturally enough unanimous in condemning the contrivance. And so the horse-power car, after countless bad jokes had been perpetrated on the cowed editors, passed out of existence, and probably out of mind." [Brown]

Another horse on the train was in South Carolina -
The company offered a premium of $500 for the best locomotive by horse-power. This premium was awarded to Mr. C. E. Detmold, who invented one worked on an endless-chain platform. When this horse-power locomotive was completed and tested upon the road, it carried twelve passengers at the rate of twelve miles an hour.  [Brown]

The president of the road, Mr. Tupper, in one of his reports to the board, informs them that on March 1, 1830, the committee to whom the matter was referred had reported that they had accepted the offer of Mr. E. L. Miller, of Charleston, to construct a [steam] locomotive at the West Point Foundery, in New York, and that it should perform at the rate of ten miles per hour, instead of eight, as first proposed, and carry three times her weight, which was required the year before, on the Liverpool and Manchester Railroad, at the trial for the premium of £500. [Brown]

Mr. Miller immediately set about the construction of his locomotive. His plans and specifications were drawn out by the same Mr. Detmole, who had invented the horse-power locomotive on the Charleston road, and who was then living in New York. [Brown]

Brown, William Henry.  The History of the First Locomotives in America: from original documents ...  NY: 1871    
Dwight, Theodore.  The Northern Traveller, and Northern Tour. NY: 1830
Smith, William Prescott.  The Book of the Great Railway Celebrations of 1857.  NY: 1858

©2017 Patricia Bixler Reber
Forgotten history of Ellicott City & Howard County MD

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