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Locomotive America, 1828
The "America", first locomotive of the United States, built by Stephenson in 1828.

Precisely it was in 1828 when Charles Carroll initiated the works for a railway between Baltimore and Ellicott City, and when the South Carolina Railway Company asked for authorization to build a railway between Charleston and Hamburg, in New York. It was at last a railway for public service and the first one projected in America without an inner track for horses. The natives who lived in this hilly area were mostly Iroquois, and albeit they were considered as less agressive than the Sioux or the Apache, they were certainly not less ferocious, and they showed this by not sparing acts of vandalism and reprisal. One of the engineers of the company wanted to send three parlamentaires to their chief, with offerings for a pacific agreement... But the three unfortunate men never returned and, furthermore, the natives set fire on the facilities during night, after having killed the guards.

However, the locomotive with its convoy comprising eight small wagons would eventually cross the grasslands while puffing and whistling... And then, like appearing out of the nothing, a group of natives riding horses desperately charged against the "iron monster" with the vain hope of destroying it. You can easily imagine what happened instead... Shortly after, the Rail Road Company prepared the works for the longest railway then existing, 136 miles between Augusta and Georgia, with headquarters in Hamburg. It was followed by the North Union Railway, which entrusted the construction of the line Wingman-Oxford to the experienced Irish engineer Charles Vignoles. However in the New Continent existed as well a deep distrust against the new transport method, mainly due to the type of fuel used to feed the fire in the firebox. How much power could develop a machine which worked only with firewood? The great masses still ignored that the prime mover was the water steam and not the fire.

Locomotive of the Baltimore & Ohio Day, 1832
Locomotive of the Baltimore & Ohio Day built in 1832.

Some affirm that in the beginning someone attempted to assist the locomotives by installing sails on them. And what to say about the cow catcher installed in the machine with the sole purpose of getting the buffalos out of the railway? There were inconveniences everywhere: on the one hand, the natives interfered the installation of the railways, and on the other, the buffalos obstructed the passing of the convoys. The large flocks that grazed in the grasslands did not respect the railway, and it was frequent that the train had to stop and the personnel descend out of it to shoo the animals lying in the railway. So it was thought that a device installed in the fore part of the locomotive, built with a wedged shape, could remove the animals from the railroad.

Locomotive John Bull, 1831
Locomotive "John Bull" built by Robert Stephenson, operating in United States since 1831, depicted here as it was in 1877 after a number of modifications.

The year 1830 marks the beginning of the manufacturing of steam locomotives and related equipment in the United States; when the tests for one of the first machines had not been carried yet, a stoker, not able to bear the excruciating whistling coming from a safety valve, sit on it... provoking the explosion of the boiler. Six years later made apparition in Pennsylvania the first sleeping cars, and since then North America was immerse into a constant work for the installation of endless kilometers of railways, which provided the country with the largest railroad network in the world.

Locomotive Norris, 1843
Locomotive "Norris" built in 1843.

Buffalo Bill and the railroad

In 1867, the United States marched in the vanguard in the field of railway construction, and numerous companies rivalled for obtaining authorization and administering the railways. The railways of the Kansas Pacific had reached in that time the heart of the grasslands; 1200 men worked in the construction of the railway. To provide with fresh steaks this multitude of awesome masticators, in a zone infested with natives, was a difficult task. The Goddard brothers, who were in charge of the alimentation of the workers, saw only one solution: the buffalos. But who would kill them? Apparently, there was only one man able to feed with his rifle such amount of workers: Bill Cody, alias "Buffalo Bill".

Bill wrote in his biography that he received a good offer to hunt for them and that they would need about twelve buffalos per day. It was a dangerous task, since the natives roamed in the territory, dedicated to pillage, and he had to ride all day long, moving away from the railway up to twelve miles to approach the hunt, accompanied by only one man with a cart to transport the meat to the workers camp. Bill affirmed to have killed 4280 buffalos during the 18 months that he worked as hunter for the railway company, and having diverse and "exciting" adventures with the natives, sometimes escaping alive by pure miracle...

The railway in Europe

The success obtained with the service implanted by the Stephenson locomotive in the line Liverpool-Manchester facilitated the diffusion of steam traction on rails, but it was not decisive for the diffusion of this locomotion system in the rest of Europe. That railroads had been consolidated as a much easier way for transport and communications was an argument that almost nobody dared to deny, but it continued to be a matter of endless discussion the election between horses or steam machines for towing the wagons, and whether it would be convenient to use the railroads for transporting freight only or passengers as well.

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