Previously the exclusive right of the privileged aristocracy, horse-drawn carriages were expensive and largely restricted to carrying minimal loads due to their crude wooden wheels’ resistance to the earthen ground.
The antithesis of these carriages were the large industrial haulage trains of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Powered by horses, these trains allowed vast quantities of material to be pulled along tramways, the weight mitigated by the grooved, steel rails. Horsecars combined the two, allowing for large traditional carriages to be attached to one or two horses and drawn along a tramway.
Akin to the pre-existing stage-coaches of the day, which ran lengthy routes between towns and cities, horsecars instead ran shorter routes within cities and suburbs, picking up and dropping off on a more regular basis. Apart from their low rolling resistance and frequent stops, horsecars were also much used due to their high tolerance to bad weather, with the rails remaining operational in storms where mud tracks and roads became impassable or very unstable and bumpy. Indeed, even with the advent of the motorcar and electric trams by 1900, horsecars were still used well into the 20th Century due to their affordability and reliability.