The American Railroads: A Long And Storied History

The earliest American railroads in this country date back to the New Jersey Railroad Company of 1815 chartered by Colonel John Stevens. This line was ultimately never constructed and while small gravity and mule-powered roads popped up here and there in the eastern United States it was the coming of the steam locomotive that truly allowed railroads to prosper. In August of 1829 Horatio Allen tested an English-built steamer named the Stourbridge Lion in Pennsylvania and the rest as they say, is history. By the time of the Civil War there were more than 60,000 miles of railroad in the country and this ballooned to more than 190,000 by the turn of the 20th century. There was a time in this country when railroads crisscrossed the nation, one could find a pair of railroad tracks only a very short distance from their home, and almost every town, large and small, boasted a train station of some type.