When Was the First Steam Train Invented?

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The first working railway steam engine was built by Richard Trevithick in 1803. Called the Pennydarren, Trevithick’s invention was powerful enough to pull 10 tons of iron, five wagons and 70 passengers on a 9-mile journey that took 4 hours and 5 minutes.

Born in 1771 in Cornwall, England, Richard Trevithick worked as a consulting engineer at the Wheal Treasury mine at age 19. His work at coal mines sparked his interest in steam engines. Trevithick developed his first steam engine prototype in 1801 — called the Puffing Devil — on which he took seven friends on a short journey. After the Pennydaren, Trevithick invented another steam locomotive, which he called Catch Me Who Can. Trevithick’s inventions, however, did not prosper much because the early railway system was too weak to support his locomotives.