Traveling by train is far different today than it was less than 100 years ago. Diesel-electric locomotives entirely replaced steam locomotives by the 1950s, turning them into a relic of the past. In fact, the fastest steam locomotives in history set their speed records no more recently than the 1930s. Here are the 10 fastest steam locomotives in history:
The slowest steam locomotive on this list is arguably the world's most famous. In November 1934, it became the very first train of its kind to be officially verified as capable of reaching 100mph. It covered more than 2 million miles before it was retired from regular service in 1963.
Number 6402 was one of 14 Milwaukee Road Class F6 steam locomotives built between January and March 1930. It set its speed record during a test run to determine the feasibility of a high speed service between Chicago and Milwaukee. All of these locomotives were scrapped.
The A3 class of LNER steam locomotive actually evolved from the same manufacturer's A1 class. Over 50 of them were built between 1922 and 1935. Papyrus hit its top speed hauling 243 tons of cargo behind it, which is an incredible feat. One of the surviving examples of the A3 class locomotives is pictured.
The is the first of two LNER Class A4 locomotives to be found on this list. Silver Link was actually the very first Class A4 locomotive to be built. It reached 112mph on its very first run, breaking all previous speed records. It was in service until 1963 and scrapped in 1965. A surviving Class A4 locomotive called Bittern, which is pictured, was once painted in the Silver Link's original silver and grey color scheme.
The Class A was the very first steam locomotive built to operate regularly at over 100mph. Only four of them were built, and the number two train registered its 113mph top speed over a 12.5-mile run, which was completed in 1935. Sadly there are no trains of this type left in existence - all were scrapped after 1951.
This train is the fastest operational steam locomotive in the world. It first appeared in the early 1970s, and is essentially the sum of a combination of various parts from old German locomotives. It managed a 113mph top speed during a trial run in 1972.
The train pictured is the only survivor of its class, and resides in the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. It is a replica of the record-setting 7002 train, which managed a claimed 115mph in 1905. The train was scrapped in 1935.
The second of only three steam locomotives of this kind ever built set the world speed record in 1936. It did so while hauling 217 tons behind it traveling between the German cities of Berlin and Hamburg. The train pictured here is train 001; 002 and 003 were scrapped in 1960.
Mallard is one of 35 Class A4s built between 1935 and 1938, setting its speed record, which still stands to this day, almost 80 years ago. What's even more amazing is that this very locomotive traveled almost 2.4 million miles during its 30 years of service. It is currently on display at the National Railway Museum in York, England, and is one of six surviving Class A4 locomotives in the world.
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