The First Tram

Posted: July 31, 2013 in Victorian Life

FIRST TRAM PIC

The very first ever tram was on the Swansea and Mumbles Railway in South Wales; it was horse-drawn at first, and later moved by steam and electric power. The Mumbles Railway Act was passed by the British Parliament in 1804, and the first passenger railway (similar to streetcars in the US some 30 years later) started operating in 1807. The first streetcars, also known as horse-cars in North America, were built in the United States and developed from city stagecoach lines and omnibus lines that picked up and dropped off passengers on a regular route without the need to be pre-hired. These trams were an animal railway, usually using teams of horses and sometimes mules to haul the cars, usually two as a team. Occasionally other animals were put to use, or humans in emergencies. The first streetcar line, developed by Irish-American John Stephenson, was the New York and Harlem Railroad’s Fourth Avenue Line which ran along the Bowery and Fourth Avenue in New York City. Service began in 1832. It was followed in 1835 by New Orleans, Louisiana, which has the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world, according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
These early forms of public transport developed out of industrial haulage routes or from the omnibus that first ran on public streets, using the newly invented iron or steel rail or ‘tramway’. These were local versions of the stagecoach lines and picked up and dropped off passengers on a regular route, without the need to be pre-hired. Horse-cars on tramlines were an improvement over the omnibus as the low rolling resistance of metal wheels on iron or steel rails (usually grooved from 1852 on), allowed the animals to haul a greater load for a given effort than the omnibus and gave a smoother ride. The horse-drawn streetcar combined the low cost, flexibility, and safety of animal power with the efficiency, smoothness, and all-weather capability of a rail right-of-way.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s