Following the horse-power car came the Meteor. This was a sailingvehicle, the invention of Mr. Evan Thomas, who was, perhaps, the first person, as already mentioned, who advocated railroads in Baltimore. The Meteor required a good gale to drive it, and would only run when the wind was what sailors call abaft, or on the quarter. Head-winds were fatal to it, and Mr. Thomas was afraid to trust a strong side-wind lest the vehicle might be upset; so it rarely made its appearance except a northwester was blowing, when it would be dragged out to the farther end of the Mount C:lair embankment, and come back, literally with flying colors. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad being the first in operation in this country, and almost the first in the world for the transportation of passengers and merchandise, of course was visited by crowds from almost every section of the United States, as well as from parts of Europe. Among them was Baron IErudener, envoy from Russia, who, by invitation of Mr. Thomas, made an escursion in the sailing- car, managing the sail himself. On his return from the trip, he declared he had never before travelled so agreeably. Mr. Thomas caused a model sailing-car to be constructed, which he presented to the baron, with the respects of the company, to be forwarded to the emperor. This courtesy on the part of Mr. Thomas was handsomely acknowledged by the baron.
Like the Morse-car, the sailing-car had its day. It was an amusing toy—nothing more—and is referred to now as an illustration of the crudity of the ideas prevailing forty years ago in reference to railroads.
It was after the demonstration by Peter Cooper that the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad C:ompany, now the Northern ventral, imported the Herald from England. It ran off the track continually, and was useless. Its unfitness, with its large wheels, for use. on our curved roads was at once apparent, and it had to be altered to obviate the difficulty. It was, however, antedated by the engine of Mr. Cooper and other locomotives, as we shall show; yet it excited great admiration for its beauty, and even its driver, an Englishman named John, became a person of consequence. When he came down from the engine to oil it, the crowd surrounded him, as the boys at a race surround the dismounted jockeys on the course. The whole American world were railroad children in the days we speak of.
The contest for the right of way along the Potomac between the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Companies—the preliminary proceedings, in which counsel on both sides, with surveyors at their heels like moss-troopers, scouted the banks of the river from the Point of Rocks to Williamsport, ferreted out the proprietors of almost inaccessible cliffs, besieged them in their dwellings to obtain grants of the right of way, described what railroads were, oftentimes to men whose knowledge of highways was confined to mountain-paths, made diagrams and drawings of cars and tracks unlike any thing that ever existed before or which ever came afterward, and were believed by an ignorance that was only greater than their own—these proceedings alone would furnish more than a dozen chapters, but our limits will not allow us to record them. The route to the mountains lay up the valley of the Potomac, and the struggle for priority of claim was a prolonged and exciting one.