In 1814, a man named George Stephenson constructed the first locomotive. In a display that attracted a few spectators, he showed that his engine could pull 30 tons up a hill at 4mph. Over the coming years, many engineers would further develop the locomotive and train to the point where it became a vital part to the growth of our nation. Between 1849 and 1860, 31,000 of railroad were built and many companies such as the Pullman Company were making early moves in to making train travel safe and luxurious for passengers.
In 1865, following the assassination of President Lincoln, the American public got their first look in to the future of train travel when a funeral train was put together and traveled the country. In the following years, as train stations popped up across the U.S., more and more people would take their first trip on a train. This photo collection gives you a rare glimpse in to what it was like to travel by train in the late 1800s.
Here is a view of Lincoln's funeral train as it pulled out of a station in 1865. Notice the large size of the wheels on the locomotive and the many people who would ride along with the procession. This sparked a thirst for train travel in the minds of the American people.
A significant development in railroad history came on May 10, 1869 when the East and West were first joined for the Transcontinental Railroad. This opened up an alternative for wealthy people who wanted to head west, but had no interest in going in a covered wagon.
Key to making train travel accessible for the public was the construction of open, busy train stations in the heart of the major cities on the East coast. These stations rapidly became a hub for merchants as well. This is a view of the Atlanta Union Station in 1871.