As 21st century Americans, we take power for granted. We flip a switch, press a button, or turn a key and the lights go on, the computer powers up, or the engines in our cars engage. The only time most of us give these processes any thought is when we get our utility bills or go to the gas station to fill the tank.
Prior to the advances of electricity, however, we lived in an age of steam. The ideas for steam power go back as far as the 1st century AD, in Alexandria, Egypt. Over the centuries, inventors played around with steam power, making many discoveries and advances, but it wasn’t until the mid-1700s that steam powered engines came into their own as practical tools.
The mining industry was the first practical application of early steam engines. In England, steam powered pistons drove mining equipment which made that dangerous job easier and faster. The engines were not perfect, and wasted a lot of energy, but they worked. Subsequent improvements and new applications of steam power issued in the Industrial Revolution, both in Europe and America.
My name is Suzanne Spellen. I've been many things: a writer, historian, preservationist, musician, traveler, designer, sewer, teacher, and tour guide; a long time Brooklynite and now, a proud resident of Troy, NY.