Dreams of Steam
ricknight | July 25, 2007 at 02:42 amby
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It was on this day in 1814 that a man named George Stephenson made the first successful demonstration of the steam locomotive, an invention that would fuel the Industrial Revolution and dramatically affect the settlement of North America.
Stephenson had never had any formal schooling, but he taught himself how steam engines worked by taking them apart when they broke down, and eventually he learned how to build them from scratch. He made his first successful demonstration of the new invention on this day in 1814. His engine pulled eight loaded wagons of 30 tons about four miles an hour up a hill.
By the 1830s, trains were already traveling 60 miles an hour. When the first transcontinental railway lines were completed in the 1870s, a cross-country journey that had taken several months suddenly took only seven days. The railroads shrank distances and increased the speed of life, while fueling America's economic expansion and industrialization.
From the Writer's Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Available by e-mail daily.
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