STEAM AT THE CENTENNIAL


| September/October 1976


The Age of Steam was steaming along merrily when the famous Centennial Exposition was held at Philadelphia in 1876. Consequently, steam engines and machinery powered by steam drew tremendous attention from the crowds.

Machinery Hall was a major attraction from the very first day, when President U.S. Grant and the Emperor of Brazil started the mammoth Corliss engine, which in turn set all the machines in the machinery hall operating. George H. Corliss ascended the engine platform with them.

A description is given in The Centennial Exposition by J. S. Ingram. He wrote: 'The President having taken hold of the valve-lever of one engine and the Emperor of that of the other, both gave the turn simultaneously; steam was on - the great walking-beams began to ascend and descend; the engine was in motion; eight miles of shafting and hundreds of machines of all descriptions were in operation, and the International Exposition of 1876 was at that instant thrown open to the world.'

New inventions and new products were a prominent feature of the Centennial. The telephone, developed by Alexander Graham Bell, was given its first big introduction to the public. America's industrial might was amply demonstrated. Other nations also shared many of their latest products.



Among those products shown, were many which would have interested readers of our publications. We present pictures from Ingram's book, and some of the wording of his descriptions.

In an article on the Perpetual Hay Press, Ingram wrote that in prior years, 'baling has always been done by placing the material for a bale in a large box and then pressing it into a bale, this forming a bale at a time, and necessarily so much time was consumed that only large bales are practicable, although they have always been found exceedingly disadvantageous.'














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