The fully operational steam and gas engines of The Collection on Palmetto represent a variety of engine types and manufacturers dating back to the late 1800s. These engines provided power for industrial and agricultural machinery, adding to social and economic growth in America.
Steam engines use steam power to perform mechanical work. Steam pressure pushes a piston back and forth in a cylinder. The pushing force is transformed by a connecting rod and flywheel into rotational force. The first commercially successful steam powered device was built by Thomas Savery in 1698.
Steam power was a tremendously important invention which arose from the the first industrial revolution in the 1700 and 1800s. Its application to industry and transportation, especially railroads, accelerated the economy and led to the emergence of other sources of energy in the second industrial revolution (Institute of Entrepreneurship Development). In fact, electricity and internal combustion engines have largely replaced steam engines. But some steam engines can be seen around the world in use today still, and in this country they are found in museums and private collections.
There were many brilliant innovators who along the way made improvements to steam engines. James Watt made steam engines smaller and more efficient so they used less coal. Oliver Evans developed the high pressure steam engine. George Corliss greatly improved the steam engine with his system of valves that increased efficiency.
Shown above: U.S. President Ulysses S. Grand and Emperor Pedro II of Brazil starting the Corliss Centennial Engine at the opening ceremonies of the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, 1876. By Unknown author - wikipedia:pt, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=648161
Steam engines were developed centuries ago. Used throughout the first and second industrial revolutions, they later were replaced by other sources of energy.