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The Top 8 of the Craziest Trains in History

Before other means of long-distance transportation, there was the train. The train was a major invention that helped the travel of millions of people and businesses. Along with fantastic inventions and improvements come some of the most ridiculous and crazy ideas. Here are the top eight craziest train inventions:


    Franz Jansen.Wikimedia
    Franz Jansen.Wikimedia

The inventor’s name was Franz Kruckenberg and he was a German engineer. In the late 1920s he wanted to make a train that look like a blimp. He was originally a zeppelin designer, but he wanted to turn his attention to the railroads.

He had first tried to create a hanging monorail, but it failed. He then decided to make a streamline train that was aluminum, bullet-proof and powered by a giant propeller. This creation, as crazy as it sounds, actually worked. It was built in 1930 and was as fast and smooth as it was long. It traveled at 140 miles per hour, and the engine set a speed record that would last for the next 23 years.

Although it was successful, it didn’t last long because of the noisy paddles.

  1. Sail trolleys

Sail-powered trolleys were first introduced in the United Kingdom in the 1850s. They were mostly known in the coastal areas, where there were reliable winds that could be used. One of the docks in Cliffe, England had used abandoned cement mine tracks to transport the people who wanted to view the sea.

  1. Pennydarren Locomotive

    Chris McKenna (Thryduulf) Wikimedia
    Chris McKenna (Thryduulf) Wikimedia

This invention was made by Richard Trevithick in 1804. His train was the first steam engine to successfully run on rails. On its first run, the 7-ton train had maxed out at five miles per hour. The train was so heavy that it only made three trips, and broke the cast-iron rails each time.

  1. The Holman locomotive


This train was built in 1887 in order to swindle gullible investors. The train had endless wheels, but those endless wheels didn’t help make the train run any better. One authority, Angus Sinclair, said that the idea had the same value as throwing gold over Niagara Falls. However, a test run had managed to convince gullible investors to part with their money.

  1. George Bennie’s railplane

This train was suspended by steel trestles. Built to look like a train-plane hybrid, it hung from an overhead rail and was pushed by two airplane propellers. It was projected to move 120 to 150 miles per hour. A prototype ran in Milngavie, Scotland in 1930, however, lack of funding caused the abandonment of any other planned routes.

  1. Beach pneumatic transit

This train was New York City’s first subway, but was made as a pneumatic tube. It was built under Broadway in 1869 and used a giant rotary blower nicknamed “the Western Tornado”. It was able to blow one single car down the track. The system was slow and loud and was shut down after the stock market crashed in Europe, resulting in the loss of investor interest.

  1. Gyroscopic monorail

In 1903, Louis Brennan designed the gyro-car locomotive. It balanced on one rail and leaned at the corners like a motorcycle. There were two gyroscopic stabilizers that helped the car lean around bends, and it stood erect when it stopped. When it debuted in 1910 London, the train was able to carry 50 people. Even Winston Churchill took a spin on it. However, the project was a flop and it was completely scrapped.

  1. Maglevs


This train magnetically levitated its cars, so it was also known as a maglev. Tested originally in Japan and Germany, these trains floated on a cushion of air. The rails were lined with a strong magnet and the repellant force is what made the train look like it floated about four inches in the air. Since there was no friction on the rails, it could travel at 311 miles per hour.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News