MOTOR CARS TO DIESELS (MOSTLY GE)

PenneyVanderbilt

In 1847 the Great Eastern Counties Railroad of England tried a 7-passenger steam-powered car. Like every railcar, its objective was to provide service cheaper than could be done with a regular train. Steam cars were used until around 1920. Compressed air cars were tried in the late 1870’s. Their range limited them to short runs. Battery-powered cars first appeared in 1880. Originally, they were also limited to short range, but eventually could cover 100 miles or more.

The gasoline (or alcohol or kerosene or whatever) engine was first built in the late 1880’s. The big hit was, of course, the automobile, but in 1890, the Patton Motor Car Co. demonstrated a gasoline-electric railcar. Others such as the Hydro Carbon Company of Chicago built gas-mechanicals without much impact. The McKeen Motor Car Company grew out of Union Pacific’s dislike of high branchline passenger costs. It was started in 1904, spun off…

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