A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its pulling power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine. Both fuel and water supplies are carried with the locomotive, either on the locomotive itself or in wagons (tenders) pulled behind.
Steam locomotives were first developed in Great Britain during the early 19th century and dominated railway transport until the middle of the 20th century. From the early 1900s they were gradually superseded by electric and diesel locomotives.
The earliest railways employed horses to draw carts along railway tracks. In 1784, William Murdoch, a Scottish inventor, built a prototype steam road locomotive. An early working model of a steam rail locomotive was designed and constructed by steamboat pioneer John Fitch in the US probably during the 1780s or 1790s. His steam locomotive used interior bladed wheels guided by rails or tracks. The model still exists at the Ohio Historical Society Museum in Columbus.
The first full-scale working railway steam locomotive was built by Richard Trevithick in the United Kingdom and, on February 21, 1804, the world’s first railway journey took place as Trevithick’s unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway from the Pen-y-darren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon in South Wales.