John Stevens Pleasure Railway

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John Stevens Pleasure Railway


Colonel John Stevens (III) determined in his belief in a steam railroad, decided to bring his vision to the people, since those in official capacity would do no more than listen to his pleas. Accordingly, in 1825, he built the country's first locomotive and ran it around a circular track on "The Green" in Hoboken, N.J. It was not much of a locomotive compared to locomotives today. He called it simply "The Steam Wagon" and visitors to Villa Stevens had to batten down their beaver or tuck in their skirts and ride behind the snorting beast. It took courage to do this.

The Stevens railroad was simple. The 16-foot "Steam Wagon" was run by a steam driven gear which meshed into a rack between the tracks (wooden rails covered strips of iron). One section of the 630-foot long track was deliberately raised 30 inches on one end to prove the engine could run up hill. Around and around at 12 miles per hour rode the hardy visitors ever fearful that the spark throwing demon would split its sides and blow them tho their destiny. many refused to go near it. The "Steam Wagon" proved the point. It was six years before New Jersey started to build its first railroad.


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"John Stevens Pleasure Railway," in Stevens Digital Collections, Item #577, (accessed March 19, 2018).

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