Background[ edit ] The first railroads were little more than tracks on roads; horses pulled wagons and carriages with their wheels modified to ride on the rails. Trains could not be moved by steam power until the steam engine could be mounted on wheels. The first steam locomotives were built in England, the birthplace of steam power, and the first locomotives in America were imported from England. Soon, however, Americans began to plan their own locomotives. The "design" was characterized by a host of improvisations. The boiler tubes were made from rifle barrels  and a blower was mounted in the stack, driven by a belt to the powered axle.
This demonstration locomotive featured an upright boiler, short wheelbase, and geared drive. To the amazement of the passengers, the locomotive traveled at the impressive speed of miles per hour. The locomotive was later given the name "Tom Thumb" because of its small size and weight of less than one ton. The "Tom Thumb" has been known as the first successful American steam locomotive.
Tom Thumb may have been a real person born around , as there is a grave purporting to be his. The inscription reads: "T. The grave measures just 16" 40 cm in length. The tale of Tom Thumb is the first recorded English fairy tale. The author is presumed to be Londoner Richard Johnson —?