Railroad History

Its all about the rails


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B&O Railroad

Charles Carroll

Charles Carroll (September 19, 1737 – November 14, 1832), known as Charles Carroll of Carrollton or Charles Carroll III to distinguish him from his similarly-named relatives, was an American statesman, a wealthy Maryland planter, an early advocate of independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain and one of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence. The sole Catholic signer of the Declaration, he is one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

First Freight and Passenger Railway in the USA

On February 28, 1827, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad became the first U.S. railway chartered for commercial transport of passengers and freight. There were skeptics who doubted that a steam engine could work along steep, winding grades, but the Tom Thumb, designed by Peter Cooper, put an end to their doubts. Investors hoped a railroad would allow Baltimore, the second largest U.S. city at the time, to successfully compete with New York for western trade.

Peter Cooper's Tom Thumb Rail Steam Engine

In the 1820s the port of Baltimore was in danger. The threat came from the newly opened Erie Canal (see "Traveling the Erie Canal, 1836") and the proposed construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal that would parallel the Potomac River from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD. These new water routes promised to provide a commercial gateway to the West that would bypass Baltimore's thriving harbor and potentially hurl the city into an economic abyss. Something had to be done.

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