The First Steam Carriage
THE first actual model of a steam-carriage,
of which we have a written account, was constructed by a Frenchman,
named Cugnot, who exhibited it before the Marquis de Saxe, in
1763. He afterward, in 1769, built an engine to run on common
roads, at the expense of the French monarch. As it is the first
steam-carriage of which we have any written account, and believing
that it should prove interesting to our readers, we copy this
description of it from Appleton's JOURNAL OF POPULAR LITERATURE,
SCIENCE, AND ART, August 17, l861 as follows: "One of the
earliest efforts in the way of' steam locomotion was the engine
of Cugnot, of France, designed to run on common roads. His first
carriage was put in motion by the impulsion of two single-acting
cylinders, the piston of which acted alternately on the single
front wheels. It traveled about three or four miles an hour, and
carried four persons; but, from the smallness of the boiler, it
would not continue to work more than twelve or fifteen minutes
without stopping to get up steam. Cugnot's locomotive presented
a simple and ingenious form of a high-pressure engine, and, though
of rude construction, was a creditable piece of work, considering
the time. He made a second engine, with while several successful
trials were made in the streets of Paris, which excited much interest.
An accident, however, put an end to his experiments. Turning the
corner of the street one day, near the Madeleine, when the machine
was running at a speed of about three miles an hour, it upset
with a crash, and, being considered dangerous, was locked up in
the Arsenal. Cugnot's locomotive is still to be seen in the Museum
of the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, at Paris, and is a most
interesting relic of early locomotion."
In 1784 William Symington conceived the idea of steam being
applied to propelling carriages, and in 1786 made a working model,
but soon gave it up, and nothing was ever after heard of the project.
The first English model of a steam-carriage was made in 1784,
by William Murdoch; this model was based upon the principle of
the high pressure, and ran on three wheels (for common roads,
of course). It worked to admiration, but nothing further was ever
done to bring the idea into a more practical form.
A few years after, Thomas Allen, of London, published the plan
of a newly invented machine for carrying goods, without the use
of horses, and by the use of steam alone for the motive pouter.
His plan was to have cogged wheels to run upon cogged rails. The
plan was all that was ever brought out.
In 1801 Oliver
, of Philadelphia, a millwright, who had entertained the idea,
as early as 1772, of propelling wagons by the action of high steam,
was employed by the corporation of that city to construct a dredging-machine.
The experiment was of a most remarkable character. The machine
was, as you may term it, an amphibious affair. He built both the
vessel and the machine at his works, a mile and a half from the
water. The whole weighing 42,000 lbs., it was mounted upon wheels,
to which motion was given by the engine and moved without any
further aid from the shop to the river. After the machine was
in its proper element, a wheel was then fused to the stern of
the vessel, and the engine being again set in motion, she was
conveyed to her designed position. Here is the first propeller.
As late as the year 1800, wooden or tram roads were general in
all the coal and mining districts in England, using horse-power
for the means of transportation of their coal or ore from the
mines to the point of shipment.
The first idea and proposition to introduce the railroad, imperfect
as it then was, for the transportation of goods and for commercial
purposes generally, and to be used as a highway between one city
and another, as at the present day, was made before the Literary
and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, England, by Mr. Thomas,
of Denton, on the 11th February, 1800. The same idea was taken
hold of in 1805, by a Mr. Edgeworth, who urged the same plan for
the transit of passengers. He urged that stage-coaches might be
made to go at six miles an hour, and post-coaches and gentlemen's
travelling-carriages at eight miles an hour, with one horse alone.
He also suggested that small stationary engines placed from distance
to distance might be made, and by the use of endless chains draw
the carriages, at a great diminution of horse-power.
These ideas of Mr. Thomas were followed by a recommendation
from a Dr. Anderson, of Edinburgh, a friend and co-laborer with
Watt in his experiments upon the improvements in steam-engines.
The doctor dilated upon the subject with great warmth and enthusiasm.
So apparently extravagant were his views upon this his favorite
topic considered, that many of his friends thought his mind had
become affected. "If," said he, "we can diminish
only one single farthing in the cost of transportation and personal
intercommunication, and you at once widen the circle of intercourse,
you form, as it were, a new creationnot only of stone and
earth, of trees and plants, but of men also; and, what is of far
greater consequence, you promote industry, happiness, and joy.
The cost of all human consumption would be reduced, the facilities
of agriculture promoted, time and distance would be almost annihilated;
the country would be brought nearer to the town; the number of
horses to carry on traffic would be diminished; mines and manufactories
would appear in neighborhoods hitherto considered almost isolated
by distance; villages, towns, and even cities, would spring up
all through the country; and spots now as the grave would be enlivened
with the busy hum of human voices, the sound of the hammer, and
the clatter of machinery; the whole country would be, as it were,
revolutionized with life and activity, and a general prosperity
would be the result of this mighty auxiliary to trade and commerce
throughout the land." How perfectly true were these arguments
of Anderson, and how his predictions have been verified even in
our own State! What else could have developed the boundless wealth
of our mountain-regions but the introduction of the railroad system
and its powerful auxiliary the locomotive, by which means their
hitherto inaccessible fastness have been penetrated, and access
thereto made comparatively easy; while their vast resources of
wealth in lumber, coal, minerals, and oil, have been brought nearer
to a market, and, but for this system of transportation, they
would to this day have been locked up in impenetrable mystery
in the deep recesses of the mountains.
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