[In the beginning...] [1600-1699] [1700-1799] [1800-1899] [1900-1999]

1800: Oliver Evans, an American, creates the earliest successful non-condensing high pressure stationary steam-engine.

1801: British engineer William Symington develops a practical steamboat for towing barges on the Forth and Clyde Canal in Scotland.

1801: Englishman Robert Trevithick demonstrates a steam locomotive.

1803: The Louisiana Purchase allows American flatboats, &c. to operate freely on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

1804: Oliver Evans builds his first steam-powered boat, weight: 4,000 lbs.

1804: Englishman Matthew Murray invents a steam locomotive which runs on timber rails. Is this the first railroad locomotive?

1804: Englishman Richard Trevithick builds 40 psi steam locomotive for the Welsh Penydarran Railroad (after he sees Murray’s locomotive).

1805: Fulton Steam Works begins manufacturing steam carriages.

1807: Robert Fulton’s steamboat Clermont was launched and made a run from New York to Albany, a distance of 150 miles.

1811: The first steamboat to descend the Mississippi River was the New Orleans. By the 1830s, steam ruled the Mississippi.

1812: The first commercially successful steam locomotives, using a rack and pinion drive, commenced operation on the English Middleton Railway. This was the world’s first regular revenue-earning use of steam traction.

1804: The worlds first steam-powered rock-boring machine was built by Harvey's of Hayle, Cornwall, England.

1813: Congress authorizes steam boats to carry mail.

1814: The first American steam-powered warship, "Demologos," was launched in New York Harbor; designed and built by Robert Fulton, the ship was officially christened "Fulton the First."

1814: In England, a steam-powered rotary press prints The Times.

1817: Fulton Motor Works patents a process for vulcanizing rubber. It is primarily used in pneumatic tires for steam carriages.

1820: The first American steamboat to cross the Atlantic (from Savannah, George, to Liverpool, England) makes the crossing in 25 days, all but 7 on steam power.

1823: First steamboat on the upper Mississippi River.

1826: First steamboat on Lake Michigan.

1826: John H. Stevens completes a circular track in Hoboken, New Jersey. He exhibits the first steam locomotive to run on rails in the U.S. (In 1815, he had received a charter from the State of New Jersey to build the first American rail).

1829: In England, Stephenson’s “Rocket” wins a competition for locomotive power at the Rainhill Trials on the Manchester-Liverpool Railway. Capable of 30 mph with 30 passengers.

1829: In England, Goldsworthy Gurney made the first long distance journey in a steam-powered vechile from Bath to London at an average speed of 15 miles per hour.

1829: George Braithwaite built first fire engine using steam to pump water.

1830: The first locomotive in the U.S. to carry passengers, the "Tom Thumb," carried 26 passengers 13 miles over the tracks of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; the trip lasted 1 hour and 15 minutes.

1830: The “Best Friend” is built at the West Point Foundry at Cold Spring, New York, for the Charleston-Hamburg Railroad, South Carolina. It was the first completely American-built steam engine to go into scheduled passenger service. It did excellent work until 1831 when the boiler exploded due to human error.

1832: First arrival of a steamboat at Chicago.

1832: Officials in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Troy, New York, begin building improved roadways for steam carriage use.

1831: The 3½ ton “De Witt Clinton” hauls 5 stage coach bodies on railroad wheels at 25 mph on the Mohawk-Hudson Railroad between Albany and Schenectady. This small engine was retired less than two years after going into service.

1831: English locomotive “John Bull” was shipped to the United States in unassembled form. It was erected by mechanic Isaac Dripps for the Camden & Amboy Railroad in New Jersey.

1835: First arrival of a steamboat at Milwaukee.

1835: The famed "Teagle" belt-driven, counterweighted, steam-driven lift was developed in England by Frost and Stutt.

1837: Great Western, the first ocean-going steamship, is launched.

1838: The steamship Sirius is the first ship to cross the Atlantic on steam power alone, taking 18 days and very nearly running out of coal before reaching New York.

1840: Henry R. Worthington invented an independent, direct-acting steam pump.

1841: Paul Hodge builds the first steam-powered fire engine in America. He is scorned by the volunteer firefighters of New York.

1843: Great Britain, the first large, iron, screw-propelled steamship, is launched.

1843: Joseph Dart of Buffalo, New York, invents the world's first steam transfer and storage elevator.

1845: British engineer William M'Naught developed the first compound steam engine.

1849: A patent was issued for the first percussion rock drill. The drill was driven by steam power.

1851: Forced-draft boilers come into use in high-performance steam engines.

1852: Elisha Otis invented the "Improvement in Hoisting Apparatus" - a safety-elevator powered by steam.

1853: Alexander Bonner Latta invented the first practical fire engine, a "steam" engine. Built and tested in Cincinnati, Ohio, it's chief feature was a boiler made of two square chambers: the inner one (a fire box) and the outer one (a space for water and steam). Cincinnati became the first American city to replace volunteers with the horse-drawn steam fire engine and to form a paid fire department.

1854: John Elder developed the compound steam engine. This new engine allowed the use of an additional cylinder. Greater fuel economies were achived with this new engine.

1855: Joshua C. Stoddard patents the steam calliope.

1857: Benjamin Isherwood, patents the steam turbine engine.

1857: St. Louis forms the second fully paid steam fire department in America.

1857: The first elevator for public use was a steam-driven type installed by Otis Brothers in the five-story department store on Broadway for E.W Haughtwhat & Company.

1862: Otis Brothers developed a new "Patent Hoisting Engine" having two vertical steam-fed cylinders situated below a crankshaft upon which was keyed a pulley. A belt from this sheave drove the winding drum located on the same bedplate.

1869: Alexander Carnagie Kirk redesigned John Elder’ compound steam engine into a triple expansion engine. The engine was fitted to Robert Napier & Sons’ ship, the Aberdeen.

1870: The nine-story Equitable Life Assurance Society Building, tallest in New York City, became the first to have passenger elevators specifically designed by the architect for office building use. Otis Tufts' two steam elevators cost a bit less than $30,000. Almost 2,500 people used the elevators the first day!

1879: Anglican Reverend George W. Garrett tested the steam-powered subarine, "Resurgam" steam for a boiler for surface operations, steam stored in pressurized tanks for submerged operations. [See the World Submarine History Timeline*]

1881: Werner von Siemens connected a steam engine to a dynamo.

1881: Thomas Edison displayed a 300 hp steam-driven dynamo at the Paris Exhibition.

1882: A 1,000 hp direct-connected steam-driven dynamo was installed by Siemens in the West Berlin Power Station.

1885: "Nordenfeldt I" – a 64-foot-long steam-powered submarine – was launched. [See the World Submarine History Timeline*]

1887: The U.S. Navy an open competition for a submarine torpedo boat, with a $2 million incentive. The specifications were based onpresumed Nordenfeldt-level capabilities and presumed a steam-powerplant of 1000 horsepower. [See the World Submarine History Timeline*]

1889: At the Paris Universal Exhibition, the Gustave Eiffel Tower contained five steam-driven hydraulic elevators -- two by Roux-Combaluzier, two inclined Otis elevators and one Edoux with one car balancing another.

1892: Rudolph Diesel patented the “diesel” engine in 1892; by 1897, he had a fully working engine.

1895: On March 3, the John P. Holland Torpedo Boat Company was awarded $200,000 to build an 85-foot, 15 knot, steam-powered submarine to be called "Plunger."

[In the beginning...] [1600-1699] [1700-1799] [1800-1899] [1900-1999]

Site Coordinator: Lori Niemuth
Last updated: July 24, 2007