The Rise and Fall of River and Rail transportation in Madison, Indiana.

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Introducing Steam

old steam engineAfter the initial trials and success of the steamboat, it was only natural that the next step would be to apply the tremendous power and potential of steam to an over-land application. Hence, came the steam railroad.

As with the steamboat, the railroad advanced in baby steps, slowly but surely gaining popularity with each triumph in its early stages. In 1815 the first railroad charter in North American was granted to John Stevens, considered to be the father of the American Railroad, and others followed, but there was still no reliable steam system available for use at this early date. However, Stevens, in 1826, demonstrated the feasibility of steam locomotion on a circular track constructed on his estate in Hoboken, New Jersey and the first operational and viable railroads soon came into being. The famous Baltimore and Ohio, the B & O line, began in 1830 when it opened up 14 miles of track. Sturbridge 1826 circular railroadThe B & O initially relied on horsepower but in 1831 an American made locomotive was placed in service. Other early railroads were the Mohawk and Hudson, the Saratoga and the longest steam railroad in the world at that time, the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company. It should be noted that the early railways and the quaint engines running atop them shared little resemblance with the iron titans that would, one day, crisscross the land to form one of the greatest railway systems in the world.

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