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Peter Cooper of Canton Iron Works

Peter Cooper (February 12, 1791 – April 4, 1883) was an American industrialist, inventor, philanthropist, and politician. He designed and built the first American steam locomotive, the Tom Thumb, founded the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and served as the Greenback Party's candidate in the 1876 presidential election.

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

Having been convinced that the proposed Baltimore and Ohio Railroad would drive up prices for land in Maryland, Cooper used his profits to buy 3,000 acres (12 km2) of land there in 1828 and began to develop them, draining swampland and flattening hills, during which he discovered iron ore on his property.

Canton Iron Works

Seeing the B&O as a natural market for iron rails to be made from his ore, he founded the Canton Iron Works in Baltimore.

Tom Thumb Steam Locomotive

When the railroad developed technical problems, he put together the Tom Thumb steam locomotive for them in 1829 from various old parts, including musket barrels, and some small-scale steam engines he had fiddled with back in New York. The engine was a rousing success, prompting investors to buy stock in B&O, which enabled the company to buy Cooper's iron rails, making him what would be his first fortune.

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