Railway transport has entered everyday life so confidently that it is impossible to imagine modern civilization without it. The railway in its usual form has existed for only two centuries, but the first prototypes of such tracks appeared much earlier, long before the invention of the locomotive and carriages.
From the history of the railway
The first artificial structures, which in appearance vaguely resembled a two-track road, appeared in ancient Egypt. To move heavy loads, the Egyptians thought of digging parallel furrows into which the logs were then laid. Similar designs were subsequently used in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. The improved track was a deep depression in the stone pavement, along which the wheels of ancient carts could roll.
Several centuries later, gauge roads were widely used in the nascent mining industry. The remains of mines with wooden rails equipped in them have survived to this day. A horse-drawn cart laden with ore could move along this path. The track made it possible to speed up the movement of heavy loads and to a certain extent resembled modern rail tracks. But the wooden beams wore out over time, and therefore they began to be strengthened with metal inserts in the form of strips. Very little remained before the invention of the railway.
The first cast-iron rails were made in the middle of the 18th century. They were invented by the owner of the metallurgical enterprise, Richard Reynolds. He was the first to replace wooden beams on the tracks that led to mine workings with metal rails. The wheels of carts for transporting ore are now also made of cast iron. The innovation quickly spread throughout England and allowed a breakthrough in the productivity of miners. But the trolleys were still pulled by the horses.
The emergence of rail transport
Until a certain time, rail tracks were used exclusively for production purposes. But already at the beginning of the 19th century in England, the first attempts were made to adapt the railway for the transport of passengers. The first such experience was the construction of reasonably short rail tracks in the south of Wales. The carriages on that road were conscientiously pulled by horse teams.
A little later, Russian engineer Pyotr Frolov submitted to the government a proposal to use the railroad for passenger transportation. Until that moment, the innovator had already managed to build industrial routes for mining enterprises. However, Frolov's bold and unusual projects did not find support in the government. They were rejected just like that, without any serious objection.
The railway owes its success and widespread implementation to George Stephenson, who in 1825 proposed a design of a steam locomotive suitable for pulling cars on rails not only with coal, but also with passengers. The inventor was able to convince the entrepreneurs to build the tracks from durable iron, since the cast iron was not able to support the weight of the locomotive. Stephenson, on the other hand, came to the conclusion that it was necessary to use embankments on the road, and also came up with an effective way of joining the rails.