The Richmond History Podcast

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The First Train In Virginia

From 1856 showing the Chesterfield as Coal Brook R. Road1

Feb 27, 1828 The Virginia State Legislature passed "An Act to incorporate the Chesterfield Rail Road Company" for the purpose of building and operating a railroad "to be located south of Buckingham and Manchester Turnpike roads in Chesterfield County, and to run from an intermediate point between the coal pits of Beverly Randolph and Nicolas Mills, in said County, to tidewater opposite to Rocketts in Richmond".  The resulting railroad was the first railroad in VA and the second commercial railroad in America.
1  The Chesterfield line was about 10 miles and ran for about 16 years until the Petersburg and Danville RailRoad reached Richmond in 1847 and eventually put the Chesterfield out of business.  Even though George Stephenson demonstrated a successful Steam Locomotive in 1828, the Chesterfield RR, based on an  English model, was powered by gravity with wooden rails and and a metal strip on top.1 Then animals would pull it back up the hill.

2. anything not sited from A history of the legal development of the railroad system of Southern Railway Company, By Fairfax Harrison

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