May 24th, 1830 – The First U.S. Revenue Trains

Today-In-History

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) was not the first railroad in the U.S., but it was the first common carrier railroad and the first to offer scheduled freight and passenger service to the public. It was the first intercity railroad in the United States.

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad

Based in Baltimore, Maryland, B&O was one of the two oldest, largest, most important railroads in the history of the mid-Atlantic region; its great rival was the Pennsylvania Railroad. The B&O was the first Class I railroad in the U.S. as well as one of the first in the nation. During its peak years, the railroad carried coal, steel, and other freight, as well as passengers, as far North as New York City, and as far west as Chicago. Today most of the surviving trackage is operated by CSX Transportation. The B&O provided critical logistic support to the Union during the Civil War, when it was the target of repeated Confederate raids.

A route was laid out to follow the upper Patapsco and Monocacy rivers to the Potomac, and work began. The line was opened for scheduled service on May 24th, 1830. The first vehicles to run on the railroad were horse-drawn coaches and wagons, but the railroad adopted steam power after the “Tom Thumb” was demonstrated on its track in August 1830.


 

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