Posted on

Railroad in the 1930s

With the creation of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on April 24, 1827 the common-carrier railroad (or a company whose intent and chartering was established to serve the public at large, handling both freight and passenger business) was born and so was an industry. A month later the South Carolina Canal & Railroad Company tested its own design the Best Friend of Charleston.

Aside from the B&O (which connected Baltimore with Ellicott Mills and Washington, D.C.) and the South Carolina Railroad (which connected Charleston with Hamburg) other railroads being developed during the 1830s included the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad, which connected Albany to Schenectady on a 17-mile that opened in 1831 (the railroad used the famous Dewitt Clinton steam locomotive for power, one of the first ever tested in the U.S.); the Camden & Amboy opened in 1834 connecting New York harbor with Camden, New Jersey near Philadelphia; the New York & Erie Railroad of 1835 (predecessor to the Erie Railroad); and lines around Boston which connected the city with surrounding suburbs and also reached Providence, Rhode Island opening in 1835.

Canal owners and the cities they served feared railroads would put them out of business while some of the public worried about the safety of pressurized steam boilers, collisions and other dangers associated with it. These fears were other but well justified more ridiculous assertions claimed railroads were a “device of the devil” and could cause a “concussion of the brain”.

The beginning of railroads in this country date back to as early as the latter 18th century but the first noted commercial railroad which would become a common-carrier operation was the Granite Railway in Massachusetts dating to 1826. By most accounts railroading in this country kicked off in 1829 when the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company (which would later become the Delaware & Hudson Railway) tested a British-built steam locomotive called the Stourbridge Lion in August of that year.

Railroads could cut the distant it took between cities by steamboat in half. Following the development of systems like the B&O, South Carolina Railroad and others new lines were rapidly built, so much so that by the 1840 mileage had reached almost 3,000 as compared to a few hundred in the early 1830s. During the 1840s even more railroads would be chartered, some which would become quite famous, and the decade would see improved technology in both equipment and infrastructure.

The beginning of railroads in this country date back to as early as the latter 18th century but the first noted commercial railroad which would become a common-carrier operation was the Granite Railway in Massachusetts dating to 1826. By most accounts railroading in this country kicked off in 1829 when the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company (which would later become the Delaware & Hudson Railway) tested a British-built steam locomotive called the Stourbridge Lion in August of that year. After further success of the steam locomotive as a reliable means of hauling goods and people by the end of the 1830s railroads were here to stay and would soon begin to sprawl westward.

With the creation of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on April 24, 1827 the common-carrier railroad (or a company whose intent and chartering was established to serve the public at large, handling both freight and passenger business) was born and so was an industry.