How Fast was the First Steam Engine

Electronics IQ Challenge

Prior to the first steam locomotive, people could only travel as fast as a horse could run. Although some may argue that the industrial revolution began with the train, the first steam engine dates back to 1804. How fast did it go?

A. 5 MPH
B. 10 MPH
C. 25 MPH
D. 30 MPH
E. 35 MPH

steam engine


Answer: 5 MPH

Hey, it was faster than a horse could walk! Credit goes to English inventor Richard Trevithick, who built the first steam engine back in 1804. OK, so that one was more of a proof of concept. It was not until 1825 that trains would actually carry passengers and burn up the rails at 16 mph. While not an automotive powerhouse, the U.S. first entered the rail record books with the first electric street car, which was built in Richmond, Virginia in 1888. Today, we use words like "bullet" to describe high-speed rail that can hit speeds well over 300 mph.

Learn more about the history of trains by clicking here.