On Feb. 28, 1827, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad – arguably the most important railroad in American history – received its charter from the Maryland and broke ground on July 4, 1828 – 52 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
On hand for the ceremony was Charles Carroll, the last surviving person to have signed the Declaration of Independence. On Jan. 7, 1830, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad started its daily run, though tracks were not yet completed between Baltimore and Ellicott’s Mill, Md. It was the first time in American history a railroad carried revenue passengers. Tracks reached Ellicott’s Mill, Md., on May 24, 1830.
The railroad was to be much more than a short line between Baltimore and Ellicott’s Mill – the railroad was envisioned to be the first railroad built past the Allegheny Mountains. As historian John F. Stover notes, “the line was the answer of the city of Baltimore to New York City’s successful Erie Canal, as the merchants of Baltimore sought to capture the trade of the West.”
However, it would be more than a decade, 1852, when the railroad would reach the Ohio Railroad.