Achievements Of The 19th Century:
A Century Of Achievement
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Many are the methods of transportation which have been in use throughout the centuries, but the customs of civilized man today differ from those of a hundred years ago more than those of 1800 differed from those of the first year of the Christian era. Travel in some parts of the world is still as slow and as torturous as it was in the days of old. The jolting of the dilligencies of Southern Europe and of the bullock wagons of Africa are provocative of extreme discomfort, and although sledge-riding over the frozen steppes of Siberia may be the poetry of motion, it must be seriously alarming to hear wolves howling on one's track. When an African King journeys riding pick-a-back, or a Chinese lady of rank takes an airing in a dark chair, their methods of travel are far from up to date; but they are not fit representatives of the age. Nineteenth Century man has tamed steam and electricity, marvelous steeds, indeed. Yet when this wonderful Century dawned on the world our ancestors were able to travel no faster than were Abraham and Sarah when the world was young. The ass for patience, the camel for endurance, and the horse for speed were the best the world afforded for travel for thou-sands of years.
At the beginning of the Century land journeys were made by stage coach and the sedan chair still carried my lord and lady about town, although there were a good many newfangled vehicles, such as landaus, landaulets and barouches, with clumsy iron and wood cross beds instead of springs. During the first quarter of the Century carriage building made great progress, and cabs and curricles, gigs and whiskies rode down the now antiquated sedan chair.
At this time the common people walked or, in the country, rode in the carrier's cart; the usual mode of traveling was on horseback, the husband astride the saddle and his wife behind on a pillion with her arms tight around his waist to keep from falling. The pack-horse, clumsy wagons, and the canal boat were generally used for the transportation of merchandise, while people, in the main, performed their long journeys by stage coach or the carrier's cart.
In the year 1804 Obadiah Elliot, a coach-maker, patented a plan for hanging vehicles upon elliptical springs, thus dispensing with the heavy iron and wood beds that had been invariably used in four wheel carriages up to that time. In 1814 there were 69,200 carriages in Great Britain. Dogcarts and tandem-carts had their origin in the beginning of the Century, as did a daring vehicle called the "suicide," which carried to an extreme the passion for lofty perches from which to drive.
In 1829 the first public omnibus appeared in London. Victorias became popular in 1869. The buggy is an American invention of the first part of the Century. It gained much admiration from English coach-makers, who were surprised at the extreme lightness, ease and durability with which it could travel over rough roads.
The coaches, landaus, broughams, spiders, runabouts, game carts and dogcarts of to-day show to what extent the carriage manufacturer has developed his art. They are models of grace and beauty, and infinite in their variety. Wagons have undergone as many improvements as carriages during the Century. There are appropriate wagons for every use in city or country. The use of steam and machinery in their manufacture has cheapened the price of vehicles and enabled great factories to build them by thousands, but the carriage of the millionaire or monarch of to-day may cost two or three thousand dollars.
This remarkable prophecy was made in 1781 in a poem published by Erasmus Darwin :
" Soon shall thy arm unconquered steam afar,
As early as 1787 Oliver Evans, of Philadelphia, is said to have invented a steam carriage, or locomotive, a model of which was sent to England. America can thus claim to have built the first locomotive, although the honor of having done so is usually ascribed to Great Britain. On Christmas Eve, 1801, according to some authorities, Richard Trevithick made the first trial of his locomotive at Cambourne, carrying the first passengers to travel by steam. There is confusion, however, as to the dates of the trial trips of Trevithick's engine, although it was certainly exhibited both in London and Wales prior to 1809, attracting much attention on the Merthyr Tydvil line. To quote a newspaper of the time, it "traveled with ease at the rate of five miles an hour," and conveyed "along the tramroad ten tons long weight of bar iron from Penydarren iron works to the place where it joins the Glarmorganshire canal, upwards of nine miles distant; and it is necessary to observe that the weight of the load was soon increased by about seventy persons riding on the trams, who, drawn thither (as well as many hundreds of others) by curiosity, were eager to ride." Trevithick's locomotive was but little more than a model. It was full of imperfections and, being unable to make steam, could not travel fast or draw a heavy load. It remained for the Stephensons, father and son, to produce the modern locomotive. George Stephenson's first locomotive was made in 1814, and from that year the invention of the locomotives is generally said to date.
The first public steam railway in the world was formally opened in England, September 27, 1825. The Stockton and Darlington was thirty-eight miles in length. The line was laid with both malleable and cast iron rails, and cost 250,000 pounds. Its opening was attended with great curiosity and excitement. There was to be a competition between various kinds of motive power horses, stationary engines and a locomotive being tried. The train consisted of six loaded wagons, a passenger carriage, twenty-one trucks fitted with seats and six wagons filled with coal. George Stephenson drove the locomotive. "The signal being given," says a writer of the time, "the engine started off with this immense train of carriages, and such was its velocity that in some parts the speed was frequently twelve miles an hour, and the number of passengers was, counted to be 450, which, together with the coals, merchandise, and carriages, would amount to near ninety tons. The engine, with its :d, arrived at Darlington, travelling the last eight and three-quarter miles in sixty-five minutes. The six wagons loaded with coals, intended for Darlington, were then left behind, and obtaining a fresh supply of water, and arranging the procession to accommodate a band of music, and numerous passengers from Darlington, the engine set off again and arrived at Stockton in three hours and seven minutes, including stoppages, the distance being nearly twelve miles." The passenger coaches, with their rough, uncomfortable seats, were in great contrast to the plainest passenger cars of today, but people crowded the "waggons" with feelings of mingled curiosity, delight, suspense and fear, and there were six hundred persons on the train when it returned to Darlington. There was one coach, however, which was the precursor of the luxurious drawing-room car of to-day. This was the "Experiment," an invention of George Stephenson's, built like an omnibus, with the door at one end, seats down each side and a deal table in the aisle. This well appointed coach was a success, and was used for some time afterward on the Stockton and Darlington Railway line, being drawn by horses.
In 1829 the Stephensons invented the steam blast, which, continually feeding the flame with a fresh supply of oxygen, enabled the "Rocket," their prize engine, to make steam enough to draw ten passenger cars, at the rate of ten miles an hour.
In 183o the Liverpool and Manchester Railway was opened in spite of bitter opposition from landowners and canal companies, who sought in every way to prevent the building of the road. The surveyor and his assistants were attacked with guns and pitchforks and sticks.
"I was threatened to be ducked in the pond if I proceeded," says the engineer, "and, of course, we had a great deal of the survey to take by stealth at the time when the people were at dinner. We could not get it done at night and guns were discharged over the ground to prevent us."
The writers of the day denounced the railway in magazines and newspapers. Pamphlets were written against it, and it was even opposed in Parliament. Said a quarterly reviewer of the time, commenting on a proposed line to Woolwich, which was to go at twice the speed of stage coaches:
"The gross exaggeration of the powers of the locomotive steam engine * * * may delude for, a time, but must end in the mortification of those concerned. We would as soon expect the people of Woolwich to suffer themselves to be fired off from one of Congreve's rockets as to trust themselves to the mercy of such a machine going at such a rate."
It was declared that poisoned air from the locomotives would kill birds and render the preservation of foxes impossible, that hens would stop laying and cows cease grazing. The people were told that should the use of railways become general, there would no longer be any use for horses, that the species would grow extinct, and oats and hay become unsalable. But George Stephenson was strong enough to withstand all attacks. It was while he was undergoing examination from a Parliamentary committee that the familiar anecdote about the relative strength of the locomotive and the cow originated.
"But suppose, now, Mr. Stephenson, one of these engines, going along a railroad at the rate of nine or ten miles an hour, should encounter a cow; would not that be bad, think you ?"
"Yes," replied the Scotch engineer, with a smile, "varra bad for the coo."
Even after the building of the railway the directors hesitated about employing steam locomotives; but after the triumph of the "Rocket," in 1829, the power to be used for tractive purposes was finally settled, and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway became a success beyond the wildest dreams of its promoters. Many other lines were built, and the British people soon became accustomed to railway traveling. Very odd were the clumsy cars of those times. Most of them were open at the sides and protected only by rude awnings. Some of them contained benches, but in others it was necessary to sit on the floor. The first-class and mail train was entirely covered in, and was tolerably well seated, but the most comfortable way of traveling was in one's own family coach, hoisted on a truck attached to the rear end of a train. This method of journeying became very fashionable with aristocratic folk.
The Stephenson locomotives, having but little side play to their wheels, were unable to go around sharp curves. Lines were, accordingly, made as straight as possible, and vast sums of money were spent in making easy grades. Deep cuts, costly tunnels, and bridges were necessary, and all lines in England were made with easy grades and slight curves.
Belgium is credited with being the first country on the European Continent to have a railroad. In conformity with a government decree, issued in July, 1834, Pierre Simin prepared plans for railway communication throughout the kingdom, and the Brussels and Mechlin Railway was opened for traffic on May 6, 1837. Rail-roads for general traffic were introduced in France in 1839, nearly ten years after the opening of the Manchester and Liverpool line.
While the period between 1825 and 1830 was pregnant with railway movements, it can scarcely be said that any railway was successfully operated in the Americas before 183o, when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opened its first section of fifteen miles from Baltimore to Ellicotts Mills. The first genuine locomotive in use in the United States was the "Stourbridge Lion," which made its trial trip several months before the opening of the Baltimore and Ohio road, on a railway connecting the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania with the Delaware and Hudson Canal. From 183o to 1835 many lines were projected, and at the end of 1835 there were over a thousand miles of railway in use in the United States.
In 1831 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad offered a premium of $4,000 "for the most approved engine which shall be delivered for trial upon the road on or before the first of June, 1831; and $3,500 for the engine which shall be adjudged the next best." The first prize was won by the "York," built at York, Pennsylvania, after plans drawn by Pheneas Davis, a watch- and clock-maker.
The celebrated locomotive "John Bull" was built by George and Robert Stephenson and Company, and was imported from England in 1831. This engine was exhibited by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876, and at the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893.
Many locomotives were imported from England during the early days of the American railroad, serving, doubtless, at first, as models for American engine builders, but owing to the different conditions-in the United States the American locomotive soon acquired a distinct individuality. Discarding precedent, our engineers in-vented and modified whenever they saw fit, and Yankee ingenuity made so many improvements that to-day American locomotives are acknowledged superior to all others, and are exported to every country which the rail-way has penetrated.
Necessity was the mother of invention; the money which Great Britain lavished on deep cuts and expensive tunnels was not forthcoming in the young republic, so the engineers of the United States put their wits to work and devised flexible locomotives which will round any curve, and ascend steep grades without difficulty. The chief and most important of these inventions is the swivel truck, which, placed under the front of the car, enables the driver to make a sharp turn with perfect safety, thus avoiding both the Scylla of a tunnel and the Charybdis of a long detour, and saving millions of dollars in railroad building. Prior to its invention, it was supposed necessary that the track must be built in a bee-line, and the serpentine track which climbs mountains, and rounds hills, was deemed impossible.
As was done for the railroad of the Czar, which he commanded should run in a straight line, the engineers bored through mountains and filled in chasms regardless of expense. By means of the equalizing lever, another great invention, the weight of the engine is always borne by three out of four or more driving wheels. This pre-vents the locomotive from running off the rails, even when the track is a rough one, and the roadbed is uncompleted. Of late years swiveling trucks have been applied to cars as well as to engines, so that the modern train of a score of cars follows the locomotive with exactness and safety, and hugs the side of a mountain, where the track is laid actually on a shelf hewn in the rock, with utter disregard of the law of centrifugal force. During a period of less than seventy years, our railways have grown from small beginnings to rank among the wonders of the world, and the improvement in their equipment has kept pace with their rapid growth.
Peter Cooper's locomotive, built in 1830, had great difficulty in exceeding the speed of a good horse; the locomotive of to-day, which pulls the limited express, makes sixty miles an hour as a regular thing, and can increase it to seventy upon occasion.
The provisions of all sorts made for the comfort and safety of the passengers render travel a luxury, and the advertising illustration of a modern railway company, which depicts a party of travelers, descending from a Pullman car, freshly garnished and trim, guiltless of the dust, and free from the fatigue, of the journey, is scarcely exaggerated. Passengers are carried, literally, from one point to another "on flowery beds of ease," and trips of a thousand miles are reckoned as pleasure excursions. The old iron track with its dangerous flat rail has given place to Bessemer rails, which nothing but time or fire can loosen from their place. The antiquated method of signaling by the frantic waving of flags has been superseded by electricity, which displays the signals high in the air, where "he that runs may read." Double and quadruple tracks, so that no two trains on crowded roads 'run in opposite directions, do away with all danger of collision, and the wobbly truck on which the rich man of a past generation was conveyed in his own coach, from point to point, is replaced by the drawing-room vestibuled car of to-day, "with kitchen, chambers, dining-room and parlor, all complete." Some of the trains de luxe being provided not only with libraries, and writing-desks, but with type-writing machines and operators, all of which may be enjoyed, while the train runs as smoothly as a skater on ice, or a sled upon snow.
The railway mileage of the United States in 183o was less than sixty miles, including tracks for all purposes; to-day it amounts to 182,746.63 miles, nearly half that of the world.
There are now in actual use 35,810 locomotives, 25,275 passenger cars, 8,133 bag and mail cars, and 1,229,335 freight cars. The number of passengers carried in 1897 was 504,106,525; the number of tons of freight transported, 97,842,569,150; the gross earnings of all the railroads in the United States combined aggregating $1,123,546,666, or over $3,000,000 per diem.
The remainder of the railways of the world are distributed through almost every corner of the globe; the enterprising Anglo-Saxon has introduced his chariot of fire wherever he himself has penetrated. It is quite in opposition to the fitness of things to fancy the journey to Jericho as made by railway, but not only does the modern tourist go from Jerusalem to that ancient city of the Bible, in a steam-car, but there is also a railway which runs from Joppa to Jerusalem. This last, the Jaffa -Jerusalem Railway, was opened August 27, 1892, when the first train ran from the ancient seaport to the City of David. This road, fifty-three miles long, cost $2,000,-000 to construct, and the price charged for a first-class ticket for the round trip is $4. The Hindoo railway system, as might be expected under British rule, is the most complete and best stocked of all the Asiatic railway systems. Japan comes in a good second, with American-built locomotives, Bessemer rails, and engineers who have learned their trade in the United States.
The street railway company is a recent institution, and has been in general use for comparatively only a few years. The first application of the railway track to short-distance passenger traffic was not made until 1831, when John Stephenson tried the experiment in New York. The track was of flat bars, spiked to timbers laid on stone, and the car, one only, resembled an omnibus, built in three sections, with thirty seats inside, and thirty on the roof, making sixty altogether. Horse-power propelled it, and its route was from Prince Street to the Harlem River, along the Bowery and Fourth Avenue. In 1852, the Second, Third, Sixth, and Eighth Avenue lines in New York were begun with cars much like those used nowadays. Boston had no street-cars until 1856, nor Philadelphia until a year later, in 1857. Horse-cars were introduced into Paris in 1858, but it was not until 187o that a tram-way was permitted in London, and even now they are not allowed in the center of the city. They multiplied rapidly in the suburbs, however, and during the twelve years following, 671 miles of track for horse-cars were laid in Great Britain. To-day there are street-cars in operation in every country in Europe, and also in Africa, Asia, in Japan, India and Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand, and in various parts of South America, as well as Manila, and in Honolulu.
It was not until 1873 that cable-cars were introduced. Prior to that date all street-cars were drawn by horses. The first cable-car was used in San Francisco in 1873. The experiment was abundantly ridiculed, as has been many another successful invention, and the steam-car among them, only half a Century before.
The new departure proved a triumphant success, and street-railways became possible on the steep hills which had been insurmountable to horse-cars—another instance of the manner in which American inventors always rise to the emergency.
The first city to follow suit was Chicago, in 1881, and in 1883 Philadelphia ran her first cable-cars on Market Street. The franchise in both cities belonged to the same company, and it has made its owners multi-millionaires. New York fought their introduction fiercely, and did not yield until 1886, while there were no cables in Baltimore until 1893. London built its first cable road in 1884, and New Zealand preceded the mother-country by a year, in the uses of the new means of locomotion.
The trolley-car is a yet more recent innovation. As early as 1835, Thomas Davenport, of Brandon, Vermont, constructed an electric car, operated on a circular track, but he made no more than the model. In 1851 an electric locomotive, which attained a speed of 19 miles an hour, was tested on the Baltimore and Washington Railway, but the first electric railway to prove a financial success was not built until 1881, when Siemiens and Halaske operated one in Germany. There was intense prejudice against the electric railway in the United States on account of the danger from live wires, a prejudice fully justified by the number of casualties which occurred during the first years of their use; but experience taught the safe management of the deadly fluid, and the trolley-car is now among the institutions in every town in the country. Horse-cars every year grow rarer, and the trolley is fast superseding the cable in the large cities. Elevated and underground railways are successfully operated in various European and American cities, wherever the problem of rapid transit through crowded streets renders surface tramways dangerous, not to say deadly, and electricity is becoming more and more general as their motive power.
As yet the great expense of substituting electricity for steam upon railroads has prevented its adaption to locomotives, but experiments have proved that a greater rate of speed is possible to both locomotives and steamships, by the use of electricity, than by that of steam, and that it is possible to obtain more electric power than steam power from the same amount of coal, while the water-falls have been utilized so that in all probability electricity will be the motive power of the future. Still there is talk of a coming rival. Compressed air is another propeller successfully used for locomotives and engines. It is kept both in storage batteries and in tanks, and is much liked not only for its results as to speed, but on the grounds of economy, cleanliness, and safety.
It is said that the progenitor of the modern bicycle existed nearly two hundred years ago, for there is a figure of a two-wheeled hobby-horse, on a stained-glass window in Stoke-Pogis Church, Bucks County, England, which window is 190 years old. Back in the beginning of the last Century, a strange device, called a hobby-horse, was introduced among novelties in vehicles. It was constructed with two wheels, joined tandem, by a frame of wood. The saddle for the rider was on this midway between the wheels. He, the rider, propelled the machine by means of long strides taken on the ground. Its motion was restricted to a straight line, and locomotion therewith was tiresome, and chiefly valuable for purposes of exercise.
Still the earliest velocipede worthy of the name was a clumsy contrivance, which was patented in 1816, in France, by one Baron voi Drais, under the name of the pedestrian curricle. Two years later, an improved form of the "Draismene" was introduced into England, but being impractical and clumsy, it met with ridicule rather than success. When it crossed the Atlantic in 1819, it met with more success in the United States, and was quite the fashion for a little while, although the fancy for it soon died out. The next step in the evolution of the bicycle was not made until 1846, when a Scotchman named Dalzeli invented a wooden safety bicycle, which, though a great improvement upon anything which had preceded it, was not sufficiently practical to be adopted to any extent. Velocipedes and tricycles of various patterns were patented in the United States, and were popular, chiefly for children and cripples. In 1869 M. Michaux, of Paris, invented a bicycle in which the front, or driving, wheel was very much larger than the rear wheel. Just about this time velocipede-riding was the rage in the United States. Rinks and riding-schools were opened in all the larger cities, and the fashion was almost as great as that for roller-skating a few years later. The fast youth of the period called the popular velocipede of the day, the "bone-shaker" and it required some dexterity to manage it. This had wheels of nearly equal size, the pedals being applied directly to the front wheels. The rider's position between the two front wheels was an uncomfortable one, and the clumsy machine well deserved its name.
The first bicycle of iron and steel was invented by another Frenchman, M. Mayer, also of Paris. Later on the principle of crank action, as applied to revolving wheels, becoming understood, the era of the bicycle was fairly inaugurated. Rubber tires and strong brakes rendered the motion easy, and one by one clever mechanicians discovered improvements which have rapidly made the machine the beneficent institution which it is today an actual comfort to thousands of men and women, who find in it a pleasant means of exercise and recreation. The high wheel of fifteen years ago was not ungraceful when ridden by an expert, but it was dangerous at best, and was wholly unfit for the use of women. So the low safety wheel made its appearance in 1883. The girl of the period soon found that she could ride her brother's wheel as well as he could, and the obliging American manufacturer forthwith made one specially adapted to her use, to be rewarded by the sale of as many as he could make. No one now doubts that the bicycle has come to stay. Its use has spread all over the world, and the prejudice against it which at first existed has almost disappeared. Persons of both sexes, from the small boy and girl to the gray-haired grandfather and grandmother, in all stations of life, ride it for pleasure and for health, and it is every day more and more used for business purposes.
The motor-cycle, or automobile, is yet another astonishing product of the Nineteenth Century. Although its germ was evolved as long ago as 1769, when a French army surgeon rigged up a gun-carriage and a big copper boiler in such wise that it was driven by its own power. In 1784 a road-engine was invented by a Cornishman, and in 1786 William Wymington designed a carriage which was propelled by a locomotive behind. The Orleton Amphibolus was a curiosity in Philadelphia in 1804. This was an odd sort of vehicle, mounted on wheels, and run by its own steam engine, which was part of the structure. When finished it was driven successfully to the Delaware River, where it was used for dredging the Philadelphia docks. Inventive mechanics produced more or less successful road-engines, until the appearance and perfection of the locomotive brought railways into general use, and the need for them no longer seemed apparent.
During the last decade the development of electricity and the perfection of the steam-engine has set inventors to devising new uses for them, especially for applications of that wonderful invention, the storage battery. France, where the roads belong to the government and are kept as carefully as the walks and drives in a city park, has led in the attempt to produce a carriage which should be rapidly and economically propelled by a small storage battery. The undertaking has met with fair success, and the moto-carriage is too common a sight on the Parisian boulevards to attract much attention from other than tourists; while their use in American cities is rapidly in-creasing. Bicycles are frequently run in the same manner, and the use of the automobile is constantly becoming more general. There is serious talk of making the omnibusses automobilic, and some of the electric trams are run by means of storage batteries without wires over-head.
In 1894 an automobile race was held between Paris and Rouen, and this was followed in 1895 by great races on the highway from Paris to Bordeaux. At the Paris Automobile Exhibition, which was held in 1898, more than 1,100 automobiles were on exhibition. Each one of the number was submitted to a practical test before being admitted to the show. Among them were horse-less vehicles, of all sorts, including broughams, phaetons, victorias, buggies, omnibuses, delivery-vans, and wagons of various kinds ; tricycles and bicycles ; mail-coaches and excursion wagons, and odd-looking square vehicles, which are merely square engines with two seats at the back like a carriage, with the front cut off. They were propelled by gas, petroleum, and naphtha; by steam and by electricity. For general use, the petroleum-gas engine is considered by French experts to be the best and most practical. This can be kept running, at a fair rate of speed, for three hundred miles with a few gallons of gasoline. Notwithstanding the fact that the first motor-carriage was built in England, France has made the idea her own, and far distanced Great Britain in its development. The English law has contributed greatly to this result. Until recently, the laws of the United Kingdom required that every motor vehicle on the Queen's high-way must be preceded by a man, bearing a red flag, and that it must not travel at a greater rate of speed than two miles an hour. This antiquated law has lately been re-pealed, and much interest was shown by the British public in the recent exposition of motor-carriages held at the Imperial Institute in London. In Germany the motor-carriage has reached a high degree of perfection. Much interest is felt in the automobile in the United States, al-though the condition of most of our public roads is such as to interfere greatly with its use to any extent.
In Ceylon several motor-carriages have been purchased to carry the royal mails. The motocycle is attracting much attention in India, where it is predicted that it will eventually supersede the use of the elephant, the horse, and the camel. The great elephant catcher, Stephenson, is said to be the pioneer in the use of motor-carriages in India. It is reported that he makes use of a steam motor on his hunts, and prefers it to any other means of locomotion.
The steamship is a child of the Century, and a wonderful change has been wrought since the day, less than a hundred years ago, when the American clipper ship was the queen of the seas, a greater change than had been brought about from the days of Noah's ark down to the beginning of the Century. The changes have been due first to the application of steam as a motive power to vessels and then to a change of construction from wood to iron and steel. The application of steam to ships is, how-ever, of earlier creation than the railroad. As with so many other things the germ of the idea is to be found in the discoveries of a previous Century. There are many claimants to the honor, and although there is strong reason for believing that Fitch was the pioneer, yet the first practicable steamboat was the Clermont, constructed by Robert Fulton in 18o7. The Clermont, originally a canal boat, was built to run on the Hudson. In order of construction the Clermont was the sixteenth steamboat, but it was the first to be used permanently. The trial was made August 7, while throngs of people crowded the banks to watch the sight, a few praying for success, but most of them certain that it would be a failure. There was a slight delay, but the boat went ahead on her trip and steam navigation was an accomplished fact. Along her route she was met with various emotions. Many people feared her and ignorant country folk believed that the devil was coming up the river after them and took to the woods with their guilty consciences.
The Clermont was a crude boat. She was 133 feet long, 18 feet beam and 16o tons and made only five miles an hour. But within a year two other boats built by Fulton were running between New York and. Albany, the time being thirty-two hours, with a fare of $7. The success of the experiment led to its imitation in England. The Comet was launched upon the Clyde in 1812. It was forty feet long and had a three-horse power engine.
These steamships were an important factor in the development of the newly settled portions of the United States. Before the days of the steamboat, methods of transportation were primitive. For the most part settlers made their homes along the banks of the great rivers of the Western country. Their boats were at first composed of such materials that after going down stream they could be broken up and sold as lumber. Keel boats for the purpose of ascending streams followed and these were propelled by long poles in the hands of the boatmen. Standing on the gunwale at the extreme bow of the boat the boatmen thrust the pole into the mud, and setting their shoulders against the top pushed the boat forward with the feet in walking toward the stern, which reached, he would draw up the pole and repeat the movement. In this laborious mode of travel all the merchandise sent from the East via New Orleans reached its destination. Four months were required for the journey from St. Louis to New Orleans. At Pittsburg in 1811 the first boat for Western rivers was built and she made the trip to New Orleans. Great enthusiasm was aroused when, with the construction of the Enterprise in 1815, St. Louis was reached in twenty-five days from New Orleans. The opportunity which was given for the development of the country excited the imagination of the people. A Cincinnati writer of 1817 thought that the time might come when 40,000 families would be living in the 10,000 miles of territory which he counted as tributary to that city.
It was not until 1826 that the first steamer ran up the Allegheny River and in the same year the ship Illinois reached St. Louis from New York via New Orleans, 3,000 miles in twenty-nine days and a half. From that time dates the palmy days of steamboating. Then began the exciting races which have been made immortal by the clever pen of Mark Twain. In 1823 the time between St. Louis and New Orleans had been reduced to twelve days, in 1828 the General Brown made it in nine days and four hours, and in 186o the running time had been reduced to three days. Now the steamboat has practically vanished from the Western rivers. The railroad has taken its place. But it survives on the great lakes of the North, where there is an enormous traffic.
The first steamer to cross the Atlantic was an American built ship, the Savannah. The vessel had been built in New York as a sailing ship. She was 350 tons burden, clipper built, full rigged and propelled by one inclined direct-acting low pressure engine, similar to those now in use. She had paddle wheels that could be taken out and put on deck. The Savannah steamed to the city in whose honor she was named and from there started for Liverpool May 24, 1819, making the voyage in twenty-five days, being under steam eighteen days. She used pitch pine as fuel, the use of coal in American steamers not having been introduced at that day. From Liverpool she went to St. Petersburg. For some years she ran between Savannah and New York, and finally ran aground in a storm off Long Island and went to pieces.
A ship wholly dependant upon steam was regarded for a long time as a mere chimera. Nautical experts insisted that no vessel could carry fuel enough to supply her engines on a long voyage and this was long accepted with-out dispute. The first vessel to make the journey without the use of sails and by steam alone was a Canadian vessel, the Royal William, built at Three Rivers in the Province of Quebec. She sailed from Quebec August 5, 1831, for London, putting into Picton en route and arrived at Gravesend September 16, after a voyage of 25 days from Picton.
Yet in spite of this Dr. Dionysius Lardner declared that "As well might they attempt a voyage to the moon, as to run regularly between England and New York." This feat was accomplished by two British vessels in 1838 the Sirius and the Great Western. The former was 178 feet long and of 703 tons and the latter 256 feet and of 1,340 tons. The average speed of the former was seven knots and the latter 8.2 knots an hour.
America lagged behind England in the steam Atlantic trade. It was not until 1847 that the first American steamer was built expressly for the transatlantic trade. She was the United States, built at New York for the Black Ball line. The United States was a wonderful vessel in those days, being 256 feet long and of 2,000 tons burden. Her first voyage, made to Liverpool, occupied thirteen days. Seven years before, in 184o, Samuel Cunard began running ships from Liverpool to Boston, the Britannia, the first of the line, making the trip in fourteen days and eight hours.
In 1840 began the use of the screw propeller, and the construction of ships of iron. Captain John Ericsson is given the credit for the invention, but although he was the first to succeed in the application of the principle it had been suggested and attempted by others in previous years. Ericsson built a small screw steamer in 1837 and invited the English lords of the admiralty to make a trip in his boat, which made ten miles an hour. But the board gave him no encouragement and one of the members said : "Even if the propeller had the power of propelling the vessel it would be found altogether useless in practice, because the power being applied to the stern it would be impossible to make the vessel steer." Paddle wheels were universally used then, although now they are seldom or never seen on the ocean, and are used merely in rivers and other places where the paddle wheel is more satisfactory because of the shoals. Ericsson built a small steamer, seventy feet long, in 1839; he then came to America to develop his idea, and in 1841 designed the Princeton, the first man of war with a screw propeller. In the same year he designed the Vanadalia, the first screw propeller vessel constructed for business purposes, which was built at Oswego, N. Y., and navigated the Great Lakes. Gradually the principle of the screw propeller established itself and screw steamers were built both in America and England and employed in the coasting trade and in short sea voyages. But it was deemed a hazardous experiment to try and cross the Atlantic, especially in the winter months. The Great Britain, launched on the Mersey in 1843, was the first transatlantic steamer on which the principle of the screw propeller was applied. The Great Britain was designed by Brunel and was 332 feet long and of 3,200 tons.
The Great Britain is also remarkable in that Brunel substituted iron for wood. The metal had been used for hulls of river steamers as far back as 1820, but had not come into general use. Today over 90 per cent of the steamers built in Great Britain each year are of iron, and the wooden ship is a relic of the past. This substitution of iron for wood gave a severe blow to the American merchant marine, and in fact one from which it has not yet fully recovered. When ships were made of wood the forests along our coasts furnished unusual opportunity for ship-building, and America indeed became queen of the seas. But the mineral resources of the United States were not sufficiently developed when the change came from wood to iron and the merchant marine of the United States suffered. This is, however, also due to the fact that the United States was occupied chiefly in internal development and railroads, manufactures and mining absorbed our attention, to the exclusion of foreign commerce. In recent years, however, there has been a great increase in shipbuilding, although this is still one of the few things in which the United States lags behind in the march of progress. With the improvements in steel it supplanted iron, it being better for every purpose.
Water-tight compartments had been used in wooden ships, but they were not practicable. The use of iron, how-ever, made it possible to make use of this device by which the vessel is divided by bulkheads, and thus, while two or even three of the compartments may be open to the sea the vessel will still float. The Royal William was the first important steamer to use water-tight compartments.
The increase in speed of steamships has been due chiefly to improvements in the marine engine. The new steamer Deutschland, of the Hamburg-American line, work upon which was begun in 1898, has a horsepower of 33,000, while Fulton's Clermont had a horsepower of only 24. There has been great economy in fuel. Steel has made engines stronger, and greater piston speeds with higher pressures have been made possible. Piston speeds have increased five fold, and boilers stand twenty times as great a pressure. All of these tend toward increased speed. The single engine was succeeded by the compound and the compound by the triple expansion.
With these improvements came increase in the size of vessels, this being because large vessels are relatively more economical in fuel. While the Great Eastern, the largest vessel built, was successful only in its mission of laying the Atlantic cable, the increase in size has been truly remark-able. The world's greatest liner, larger even than the Great Eastern, the steamer Oceanic of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company's line, was launched in January, 1899. Her gross tonnage is 17,040, displacement, 30,100 tons; length over all, 704 feet, by 68 feet beam, by 49 feet 6 inches moulded depth. The total depth is about 68 feet, and the length between perpendiculars about 685 feet. There are fifteen boilers twelve double and three singleended of about 1,100 tons total weight. The engines are triple, four cylinder, four crank balanced, of about 28,000 indicated horse-power. While the largest ship afloat, the Oceanic is not the fastest. The Deutschland, of the Hamburg-American line, when completed (1900), will be the swiftest passenger steamer afloat. The vessel has a length of 663 feet, breadth of 67 feet, and a depth of 44 feet. She will be fitted with two six-cylinder quadruple expansion engines, indicating in the aggregate 33,-000 horse-power. For supplying steam to the engines twelve compound boilers with eight furnaces each and four single boilers with four furnaces each will be provided. The speed contracted for is 23 miles an hour, but it is expected that 25 miles an hour will be reached.
The introduction of steamships has brought forth inventions of all sorts for the improvement of their navigation and manipulation. So perfect are the liners now in use that the ocean greyhound may be stopped or re-versed by a child, while a single man is able to execute the order "hard a-helm" on a man-of-war going at full speed. Before the new hydraulic machinery was invented, three score men were barely sufficient to stop a fast steamer in full career. Thirty feet a minute is the usual rate at which model anchor engines raise the heaviest anchors in use. The hold of the vessel is illuminated to its farthest recesses by electric light, and the constant risk of fire from lanterns or lamps upset by the rolling of the ship is entirely done away with. Science balances the compasses so as to avoid all danger of their variation, that variation which previous to the discovery of the modern method of compensation wrecked so many stout vessels upon unexpected reefs. Steamers at full speed take soundings to the depth of i00 fathoms, as a matter of course. The steam siren shrieks automatically at regular intervals in a heavy fog, and, last, but not least, when the good ship makes port, steam rings her bells, winds her cables around the capstan and runs the derricks which unloads her cargo.
Safety has been of first consideration from the first, and statistics are quoted to prove that ocean travel is now no more dangerous than a railroad journey.
Comfort as well as speed and safety are results sought by the builders of ocean-going steamers, and the great vessels on the lakes that cater to the traveling public. In 1838 even the best kind of ocean traveling was excessively disagreeable. The supply of fresh food became exhausted a few days after leaving port. But there is now a complete revolution in this respect. Even the steerage passengers faré better than did the cabin passengers of the early days. The employment of cold storage and artificial refrigeration, together with the adaptation of every improvement in life ashore, have arranged it so that a voyage on the ocean may be as comfortable as life at a first-class hotel.
Only the motion remains to worry the person who is addicted to sea-sickness.
The fable of Jack's beanstalk is more than realized by the evolution of the steamboat. It is a far cry from the Clermont, built by Robert Fulton in 1807, to the floating hotel which crosses the Atlantic from New York to Lon-don in six days, carrying every modern luxury for the benefit of her passengers, and the Iowa or the Oregon, those triumphs of modern science as applied to naval war-fare, which have so immeasurably increased the respect of the universe for the United States and her navy. Sailing vessels are old-fashioned; steamships navigate every sea on the face of the earth, penetrate every bay and inlet, find the head of navigation on every river, and darkest Africa finds the electric light turned full upon it from the modern gunboat which terrorizes her most warlike tribes.
Mulhall estimates that the shipping of the world is of 22,885,000 tons register, of which 11,905,000 is steam. More than half of the aggregate is British and American, the United States being second in the list. Together the ships of the world have a carrying power of 58,61o,000 tons.
The problem of traversing space by means of apparatus under navigable control has for many years occupied the minds of inventors. Success in this direction has not been great, but the Century has made easier the way of those who are striving to attain the end. Ballooning, which involves the use of machines lighter than the air, does not present insuperable difficulties. Since the Brothers Montgolfier ascended in 1783 by means of a fire balloon at Annonay, there has been no difficulty in making ascents of as great as five miles. The first successful at-tempt at propelling balloons was made by Giffard in 1852, the car being little more than a wooden platform with wheels to allow its running along on descending. More difficult has been the problem of aviation or the use of flying-machines, because of the necessity of using apparatus heavier than the air. One of the characteristics of aviation is a large supporting surface, either in the form of wings or an aeroplane which is used to carry the weight. Machines of this type invented by Langley, Maxim and others have made short flights successfully, but they are as yet far from practicable, although these men, both distinguished scientists, believe that the problem will be solved before many years shall have passed.
As fascinating is the subject of submarine navigation. Many attempts have been made to solve this problem, and the nearest to success was achieved by the Holland sub-marine boat, designed as a war-vessel for use in the war between the United States and Spain. The boat, although it made several trips under water, was not regarded as feasible by the navy department, and submarine navigation is not yet an accomplished fact, although the boat built by George C. Baker in 1892, and others, are steps in that direction.