When Englishman Richard Trevithick debuted the first practical steam locomotive in 1804, it averaged less than 10 mph. Today, several high-speed rail lines boast speeds 30 times as fast!
Black History Fact: Andrew Jackson Beard (1849–1921) created his most famous invention, the Jenny coupler, while working for various railroads. The Jenny coupler automatically locked train cars together when they bumped into each other. This made connecting long trains much easier—and safer. Before the invention of the Jenny coupler, workers had to insert a metal pin to link the cars as they came together. It was very dangerous work. The Jenny coupler was an invention that saved the lives of countless railroad workers.