February 1957 | Volume 8, Issue 2
The very name itself, flashing by on the trim blue cars, has a rhythm and a poetic ring: Baltimore & Ohio, and its history is the longest among American railroads. Peter Cooper himself piloted its first engine, his own Tom Thumb, and got her up to a dizzy eighteen miles per hour. (One passenger was astounded to discover that he could still take readable notes at this breakneck pace.) The BfeO pioneered to the Ohio River; it also tried out the first baggage car, the first diner, the first iron box car, the first electric locomotive, the first air-conditioned train. Coal ran it; coal was its fortune. Through it all, in peace and war, the B&O, unlike so many lines, never defaulted its bonds, never sold out, and wound up running 6,020 comfortably profitable miles of mainline railroad in thirteen states—all under the original charter, granted in 1837.