The Belgian Steam Motor, Trialled in Chicago in 1892

The short-lived Belgian Steam Motor (Image: Internet Archive Book Images. The Belgian Steam Motor)

I’ve always loved seeing illustrations of vintage transportation, and this chunky-looking contraption caught my eye as I trawled through the Commons. The decorative 19th century tramcar was known as the Belgian Steam Motor and crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to the USA to be trialled by the North Chicago Street Railroad. Unlike most streetcars of the period, which were electrically operated or cable-hauled, this one was – as its name suggests – steam powered, and it was heavy.

The Street Railway Review reported:

“In January, 1892, the North Chicago road imported a steam dummy built in Ghent, Belgium. The car was of iron, 12 ft. long, 8 ft. wide, weighed 7 tons, contained 25 horse-power engines and cost $7,000. The improvement lay in a muffling of the exhaust steam. It was given a fair trial, but soon abandoned.”

Keep Reading: 8 Abandoned Tram Tunnels and Trolley Graveyards



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