A horsecar or horse-drawn tram is
an animal-powered streetcar or
These early forms of public transport developed out
of industrial haulage routes that had long been in
existence, and from the omnibus routes that first ran
on public streets in the 1820s, using the newly
improved iron or steel rail or 'tramway'.
These were local versions of the stagecoach lines and
picked up and dropped off passengers on a regular
route, without the need to be pre-hired.
Horsecars on tramlines were an improvement over
the omnibus as the low rolling resistance of metal
wheels on iron or steel rails (usually grooved from
1852 on), allowed the animals to haul a greater load
for a given effort than the omnibus and gave a
The horse-drawn streetcar combined the low cost,
flexibility, and safety of animal power with the
efficiency, smoothness, and all-weather capability of a
The first rail passenger services in the world were
started by the Oystermouth Railway in Wales, using
specially designed carriages on an existing tramline
built for horse-drawn freight dandies.
In the United States the very first streetcar appeared
on November 26th, 1832, on the New York and
Harlem Railroad in New York City.
The earliest streetcars used horses and sometimes
mules, usually two as a team, to haul the cars. Rarely,
other animals were tried, including humans in
Problems with horsecars included the fact that any
given animal could only work so many hours on a
given day, had to be housed, groomed, fed and cared
for day in and day out, and produced prodigious
amounts of manure, which the streetcar company
was charged with storing and then disposing of.
Since a typical horse pulled a streetcar for about a
dozen miles a day and worked for four or five hours,
many systems needed ten or more horses in stable for
The last horse-drawn tram was retired from London