August 28th, 1830 – Train Vs. Horse Showdown!


On August 28th, 1830, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad‘s new Tom Thumb steam locomotive raced a horse-drawn car, presaging steam’s role in US railroads.

Tom Thumb Engine

Tom Thumb was the first American-built steam locomotive used on a common-carrier railroad. Designed and built by Peter Cooper in 1830, it was designed to convince owners of the newly formed Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) to use steam engines. It is especially remembered as a participant in an impromptu race with a horse-drawn car, which the horse won after Tom Thumb suffered a mechanical failure. However, the demonstration was successful; and in the following year, the railroad committed to the use of steam locomotion and held trials for a working engine.


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