Including systems with man or horse power, and tracks or guides made of stone or wood, the history of rail transport dates back as far as the ancient Greeks.
They have remained the primary form of long long distance land transportation for many bulk materials such as coal, ore, grains, stone and sand and gravel.
“A good horse on an ordinary turnpike road can draw two thousand pounds, or one ton.
A party of gentlemen were invited to look upon the experiment, that the superiority of the new road might be established by ocular demonstration.
Twelve wagons were loaded with stones, till each wagon weighed three tons, and the wagons were fastened together.
A horse was then attached, which drew the wagons with ease, six miles in two hours, having stopped four times, in order to show he had the power of starting, as well as drawing his great load.” The earliest evidence found so far of a wagonway, a predecessor of the railway, is of the 6 to 8.5 km long Diolkos wagonway, which transported boats across the Isthmus of Corinth in Greece from around 600 BC.
Wheeled vehicles pulled by men and animals ran in grooves in limestone, which provided the track element, preventing the wagons from leaving the intended route.The Diolkos was in use for over 650 years, until at least the 1st century AD.The first horse-drawn wagonways also appeared in ancient Greece, with others to be found on Malta and various parts of the Roman Empire, using cut-stone tracks.They fell into disuse as the Roman Empire collapsed.The earliest known record of a railway in medieval Europe is a stained-glass window in the Minster of Freiburg im Breisgau dating from around 1350.In 1515, Cardinal Matthäus Lang wrote a description of the Reisszug, a funicular railway at the Hohensalzburg Castle in Austria.