American Steam-Car Pioneers

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Cover photo from John H. Bacon’s American Steam-Car
Pioneers. Roy W. Whipple (left) and Louis R. Clinton racing
locomobiles in 1900.

Inventive ingenuity is given the green light in ‘American
Steam-Car Pioneers’, a small choice paperback book that tells
of men who dreamed and dared more than a century ago.

The first man described in the book is Sylvester H. Roper,
believed by the author to have been ‘the first man in the
United States to build several successful self-propelled road
vehicles’. Roper died at the age of 73 while riding another of
his inventions, a steam-propelled bicycle. He suffered a heart
attack during an exhibition spin.

George A. Long was inspired to put together a steam car when he
saw a steam ‘horseless carriage’ being operated at a fair
at Brattleboro, Vt. With his first steam vehicle, he ran into
trouble with neighbors, and had to operate by stealth, mainly at
night. Then the town of Northfield, Mass., where he lived, passed
an ordinance against the car, and he had to get rid of it.

George Eli Whitney gave a number of Massachusetts residents
their first view of a steam-car, with his vehicles. Among his
products were small steam launches, large steam yachts, and sewing
machines powered by steam, which were exported to China. The
Chinese women were unable to use treadles because of their deformed

These are just a few of the .highlights from this
well-illustrated book. The author, John Heafield Bacon, died at the
tragically early age of 35. The book is published by the Newcomen
Society of the United States, and should be treasured as a record
of true heroes of transportation.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment