Steam Locomotives

Steam Locomotives are a locomotive that is able to run by pulling its power through the steam engine. The steam is created in the boil by burning materials such as coal, oil, and wood, moving pistons. These pistons are connected to the drivers, or main wheels of the train. The first steam locomotive was created February 21, 1804, by Richard Trevithick, who also inveted a railway and road locomotive in 1802 and 1801, respectively. Steam locomotives were commonly used until the mid-twentieth century, gradually being phased out in favor of trains that ran on electric and diesel power.

Steam locomotives work mainly by the steam engine. Water and fire combine to create the heat, which then heats the water, which then creates steam. This steam is the power of the locomotive, causing the wheels to turn and forward motion to occur. The firebox on the rear of the boiler is the place where the fuel was burned. It had a door that could be opened to add the fuel– typically, coal or wood. From there, the heated gas flowed through tubes submerged in the water of the boiler, turning it too steam, and powering the train. If the pressure got to be too much, the steam was also able to be released manually.

William Murdoch was a Scottish inventor who built the first prototype of a steam locomotive in 1784. From there, a model of the steam locomotive was developed further by John Fitch in 1794, using interior blade wheels that were guided by tracks. Although, some historians and experts dispute the date of that prototype’s creation. However, experts do agree that the first steam locomotive that worked and was built on a full scale was created by Trevithick(whose first locomotive was called “the Puffing Eagle”. It was able to run once it was put to use– but with middling success.

Ultimately, Trevithick’s design utilized innovations such as high-pressure steam, reducing the engine’s weight and thus increasing the efficiency of the engine. When the inventor visited Newcastle in 1804, owners and engineers were ready to receive him, and as a result colliery railways located in the northeast section of England became the go-to place for this locomotive to be developed and experimented with to improve it. Trevithick also experimented with other locomotives, working to develop steam propulsion. This ended with the Catch Me Who Can in 1808.

Salamanca, a twin-cylinder locomotive, came along in 1812. Invented by Matthew Murray and designed exclusively for an edge railed track, Middleton railway rolled it out and began using it. William Hedley also designed the Puffing Billy, another of the earlier prototypes of the staem locomotive, in 1813/1814. This was going to be run by the Wylam Colliery railroad and now is on display at the Science Museum of London.

The Locomotion was built for the Stockton & Darlington railway, the first public steam railway, and its creator George Stephenson built the Rocket in 1829, which claimed victory in the Rainhill Trials and resulted in the inventor successfully making his company the primary constructor of staem locomotives for not only the United Kingdom, but Europe and the United States as well. When the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened shortly after, they used steam locomotives for the purpose of both passenger trains and goods ones too.

Steam power certainly changed the way that locomotives were able to operate– and by doing so, changed the way that an entire industry operated. Freight, materials, and passengers were now moved using the powerful technology of high pressure steam, and locomotives powered this way became indispensable for the majority of the 1800s and for some time after. However, the monopoly on transportation could not last forever. As technology became more developed and more inventions were made, the steam locomotive was forced to make way for the newer– and more efficient– models.

These days, steam locomotives are featured mostly in museums. Railroad museums showcase their exhibits on steam locomotives, with real locomotives preserved and on display! From the moment they were conceived and made a reality, steam locomotives drastically changed the way that the railroads operated, and many people got rich by way of their steam locomotive companies.

Along the way, the way the locomotives operated and looked continued to evolve– even developing ‘cattle catchers’ on the fronts to move cows that may have made their way onto the train tracks. Steam locomotives were used not only to transport goods, but people as well. They became increasingly more powerful and fast as they moved from two to four-cylinder design. Unfortunately, the age of steam could not last, and the steam locomotive was effectively edged out by electric and diesel trains. But to this day, the steam locomotive remains etched in history as one of the great inventions of the Industrial Age.



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