Early American Steam Locomotives
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Early American Steam Locomotives

In the early day of American Railroads the earliest engines were all imported from England, but it wasn't long before American locomotive builders emerged along with many improvements. Steam was the driving force on American Railways until the mid 1960 when they were replaced by diesel powered engines.

All the early steam locomotives in the United States were imported from England, and they became the basis of all of the locomotives built on America since. However American locomotives quickly took on a character of their own through the ideas that were developed here. One of the earliest attempts along these lines was performed by Oliver Evans in the first part of the 19th century when you build a steam engine capable of people on the streets of Philadelphia. His invention foresaw much of that that was first accomplished in England. Evans accomplishments never really got off the ground because the lack of financing, but it was available in England.

The first image of America was ordered by Horatio Allen that is described in an article that was written in 1884 about the first five years of the railroad era. Before James Watt that even invented the steam engine as early as 1780, Oliver Evans had already matured his plan of a high-pressure boiler that used well played to win at least gotten as far as a stationary engine. This boiler differed in many ways from that that is not found on steam locomotives.

In Evans version of the steam boiler the hot gases passed around the tubes rather than through the tubes as they do in a steam locomotive. But there is little doubt that Evans had all the elements of a steam engine but lacked a operating partner like Boulton as Watt did. Evans was one of those cases where the inventor was ready only the time was not.

In 1825 John Stevens, of Hoboken New Jersey constructed and used a locomotive engine having a boiler that was composed of a set of tubes that were of small diameter and were filled with water. The hot gases from the firebox swirled around the tubes, and

Shortly after they started building railroad's in the United States and quickly advanced to the stage that required homegrown locomotives. There were several different American designers that either partially or wholly constructed them in accordance with the needs of American railroads. Many of these engines differ in many important respects from those engines that were being imported from England. These early pioneers included such inventors as Peter Cooper, Long and Harris, and Phineas Davis.

In England they had been building steam locomotives for use on various colliery railroads along before they were imported to into America. This was before any of the American railroad companies and even completed the railway.

The first three British engines they were imported into the United States were by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company in 1828 and 29 including two that were very similar to the famous British Rocket engine built by Stephenson. Since the Hudson River terminus of the D & H. Canal was at Port Ewing New York just south of Kingston these engines were first put into working order at the West Point foundry located in Cold Spring across the river from West Point then taken up the river on barges.

The first engine wholly built the United States was also built that the West Point foundry called “Best Friend” for use on a railroad in South Carolina.

It didn't take long for several American locomotive builders to emerge, and the improvements on the engines came fast and furious. Steam engines lasted in the United States until the 1960s where they reigned supreme until the coming of diesels just before World War II. Today there are still a few steam locomotives plying the tracks but now they are strictly tourist attractions.

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Comments (3)
Ranked #94 in History

A subject I know very little about, but have always found it very intriguing.

Excellent informative write.thanks

Great story about steam locomotives.