Transportation Revolution

Steam Transportation

The Steam Engine

The first steam engine was invented in 1698 by Thomas Savery; his first model was very crude. He was a military engineer who based his invention on Denis Papin's Digester or pressure cooker. The original purpose of the invention was to pump the water from coal mines. It was later that the steam engine was used for transportation.

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The First Steamboats

The first steamboat design was tested by Robert Fulton in France. Later, he tested the Clermont, the first full-size steamboat in the United States. The Clermont traveled against the current of the Hudson River without trouble on August 9th, 1807. Demand for the steamboats soon arose.

Mississippi River Steamboats

By the mid-1800s, hundreds of steamboats were traveling up and down American river ways. Steamboats enabled Americans to ship goods farther, faster, and more cheaply than ever before.

Gibbons vs Ogden

Increased steamboat shipping led to conflict over waterway rights. Aaron Ogden sued Thomas Gibbons for operating steamboats in New York waters that Ogden said he owned in 1819. In the case of Gibbons vs. Ogden, which reached the Supreme Court in 1824, the court reinforced the federal government's authority to regulate trade between states by ending monopolistic control over waterways in several states. The ruling freed up waters to even greater trade and shipping.

The Steamboat - US History
Steam Locomotive - History of British First Steam Engines

Steam Locomotive

The First Locomotives

Richard Trevithick patented a "high pressure engine" in 1802. He used it to power the first steam-powered locomotive engine.


The first practical locomotive was built by George Stephenson and his son, Robert. The "traveling engine" was built in 1814. It was used to haul coal out of the Killingworth mine.

The Rocket

The Stephensons built

In 1829, the Stephensons built the famous locomotive Rocket, which used a multi-tube boiler, a practice that continued in successive generations of steam engines.

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