Model of Richard Trevithick's 1804 Locomotive

This is a 1/2 inch scale model of Richard Trevithick’s 1804 locomotive, which is considered the world’s first steam-powered railway vehicle. It shows four wheels, horizontal boiler, a single cylinder and gearing on its side.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, Richard Trevithick, British inventor and engineer, experimented with high-pressure steam boilers, constructing several stationary steam engines and two steam-powered roadway carriages. In 1803, the owner of the Penydarren Iron Works of Merthy & Tydfill, Wales, requested a railway engine for his tram road. Completed in February of 1804, the engine hauled a five-car train loaded with 70 men and 10 tons of iron on its first trip, and later hauled a 25-ton train. Pulling a load, its normal speed was around 5 miles per hour, but the engine alone could reach 16 miles per hour. Despite its successful operation, the locomotive proved too heavy, breaking the brittle cast-iron plate rails of the tram road. It was retired and used as a stationary engine.
Currently on loan
Object Name
model, locomotive
date made
date refurbished
Trevithick's locomotive constructed
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 13 3/4 in x 7 1/2 in x 20 1/2 in; 34.925 cm x 19.05 cm x 52.07 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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