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How do trains work

Updated on March 15, 2013

The man, the legacy

The Inventor of the Train
The Inventor of the Train | Source

The Rocket

The very first train invented by George Stephenson
The very first train invented by George Stephenson | Source

George Stephenson, the inventor of the train

The first steam-powered engine invented, nicknamed, ‘The Rocket,’ was built by a British Engineer, George Stephenson in 1825. The first transcontinental railroad, The Pacific Railroad, built between the years of 1863 and 1869 and ran from Iowa to California. The Pacific Railroad opened for business on May 10th, 1869.

Union Central Pacific Railroad

Also known as...the Pacific Railraod
Also known as...the Pacific Railraod | Source

Steam Engine circa late 1800's

Archive Image from GMSR
Archive Image from GMSR | Source

Trains of the late 1800s


Trains used to run on steam-powered engines fueled by burning coal. The heat from burning the coal would boil the water creating pressure that drove the motor for the engine car. The steam whistle, was a actually a release valve that allowed the engineer to release pressure quickly if steam built up to fast thereby controlling the speed of the train. More, modern trains run off of, diesel fuel. In addition, the newest trains run, off electricity.

The purpose of trains has not changed in the past 150 years. They have, always been used to ship supplies from one area to the next. Fact is, long before there were tractor-trailers, the only way to move supplies, from one town to the next was by train.

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

Trains by sections

Travelers could ride in the passenger cars, which were generally, kept closer to the engine at the front of the train while boxcars carrying supplies were kept near the rear. Passenger seating usually consisted of bench-type seating with overhead storage for smaller bags.

At the end of the train was the caboose. The caboose actually served two purposes. The main one was to warn other trains on the same rail that they were there by keeping a light constantly burning at night. The second job of the caboose was to act like a watch guard against train robbers.

GSMR in the Fall

Located in Bryson City, North Carolina. GMSR offers tourist a spectaulare view of the mountain countryside.
Located in Bryson City, North Carolina. GMSR offers tourist a spectaulare view of the mountain countryside.

Trains for guided tours

Today, many passenger trains are used for commercial purposes such as guided train tours. Great Smoky Mountain Railroad hosts hundreds of thousand tourists per year from all around the world. Although the rail line is used for hauling freight,to this day,GSMR focuses primamrily on train tours of the Smoky Mountains.

Thomas the Train


Trains for children

Another service that has become popular is attracting children for special train rides. Great Smoky Mountain Railroads, of Bryson City, NC offers Thomas the train rides, The Polar Express and other special events.

Children's fascination with trains is a long running one. Fact is, many of the railway owners of today started out with that child-like love for trains. The founder of the, Great Smoky Mountain Railway started off by selling cigarettes to the train workers as they laid rail way back when. In time, he began working for them doing odd jobs as they laid rail. Overtime, he would rise up to to start his own railroad company.

The world's fastest train


The world's fastest train

Shanghai's train, the maglev is the world's fastest train. This train moves at an average of 430 kilometers per hour or over 236 miles per hour. The train uses a powerful magnetic system to lift the train about 10 millimetes above the specially designed track called a guideway. The train, itself, was actually designed by German engineers as was the track. The hole system makes the Maglev 60% faster than bullet trains becasue of the reduction in friction.


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      Colton Rausch 5 years ago