Whether or not you're a die-hard train enthusiast, it's pretty hard to dispute Richard Trevithick's impact the world. An accomplished mechanical engineer, Trevithick was born in Cornwall, England, in 1771. Among his many notable accomplishments, he's probably best known in transportation circles for constructing the very first steam locomotive.
Unfortunately, Trevithick's engineering skills did not translate to business, and he made many foolhardy decisions that cost him financially (although plenty of other people managed to turn a profit on his ideas). He died virtually penniless in 1833 and was subsequently placed in an unmarked grave, where he remains today [source: Encyclopaedia Britannica].