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The Steam Engine

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The Steam Engine

'In the never-ending search for energy sources, the invention of the steam engine changed the face of the earth.' (Siegel, Preface) The steam engine was the principal power source during the British Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. The steam engine opened a whole new world to everyone. The steam engine maximized production, efficiency, reliability, minimized time, the amount of labor, and the usage of animals. The steam engine in all revolutionized the Eastern Hemisphere, mainly European society. What does revolutionize actually mean? It means that something such as the steam engine brought about a radical change in something, and this something is the European Society. The steam engine specifically brought about a radical change in work, transportation of goods, and travel. The invention of the steam engine revolutionized European society by enabling tasks to be done quicker, cheaper, and more dependably.

The steam engine use throughout the several professions revolutionized numerous aspects of Western European Society. The first important use of the steam engine came in 1776. The steam engine was used to show the Cornish miners how successful it could be in removing the water from the mineshafts. This proved to be of great importance to the Cornish, because one of their biggest problems was the flooding of the mining shafts. (The Penetration of the Industry by Steam Power) The mine owners 'worried'that the mines would have to be shut down unless water could be pumped out of the shafts.' 'The engine successfully raised water from the bottom of deep mines.' (Siegel, 17) This saved the shutting down of the mines, which were essential to further the economy. Not only did the steam engine save the mines, it provided a method of mining that proved to be extremely quicker than the traditional techniques. One of the biggest incomes for the British was found in their textile industry. In the textile industry, the domestic system presented many problems for merchants. They had difficulty regulating standards of workmanship and maintaining schedules for completing work. Workers sometimes sold some of the yarn or cloth in their own profit. As the demand in cloth increased, merchants often had to compete with one another for the limited amount of workers available in manufacturing, which increased merchants' costs. As a result, merchants turned increasingly to machinery, which was powered by the steam engine, for greater production and also turned to factories for central control over their workers. (Johnson, 30) The steam engine proved to be a reliable investment for merchants of the textile industries not only because it wasn't accident prone like humans and increased production by unimaginable amounts, but it also moved the company into a factory, which helped to urbanize life to the way we live it today. The steam engine was also used on the farm for several purposes. It was used extensively for deep plowing, cultivating, mole draining and ground clearing. 'Great advances were also made in agriculture with the engines enabling greater acreage to come under the plough and production increased by the use of machines to do tasks formerly done by hand or by horses.' (Johnson, 39) These steam engines allowed farmers to grow crops in abundance with minimal manual labor, which was an increase in quantity and quality productions since a machine and not a human was doing the work. Another great contribution of the steam engine was made in the iron/coal industries. Since iron was starting to be produced so rapidly, more coal was needed to keep the steam engines running. Since the coal mining industry had to keep up, steam power was used for the mining of coal, which proved to be much faster than customary methods. Because the steam engine was used to mine coal, and because 'England had large deposits of coal to fuel the new steam engines, it enabled people to use more machines and to build larger factories.' (Industrial Revolution. Earth Explorer). More machines and factories using the steam engine meant more production, more reliability, and cheaper prices. The steel industry was also revolutionized through the use of the steam engine. Steel, smelted from iron, was beaten, rolled or shaped on steam-powered machines. This steel became very cheap, and was able to be used for the railroad tracks, and also used later on in construction. (Gordon). Without the steal to be shaped so fast by the steam engines, countries couldn't have expanded its trade and travel the way it did. It is also said that, 'The water works and, in many cases, the canals could not exist without steam-power, for their very existence depended upon the regular raising of large quantities of water to high levels. Steam was the only power that made this possible.' (The Penetration of the Industry by steam power) Without the steam engine, these factories, mills, agricultural advances, and other industries could not have been revolutionized in the way they were.

The steam engine used in means of travel revolutionized the transportation of goods, as well as the importing and exporting of them. 'The steam-powered railroad changed geography and history. When grain merchants transported their goods by horsepower, they could go only so far before the horse consumed more than it could carry.' (Gordon) In this aspect, the steam engine in railroads allowed people to import and export their goods on a faster, more reliable, source. Another major effect of the steam engine on society was the increased communication between different areas and countries relating to prices. Before the steam engine in the railroad, prices of products varied dramatically from area to area. Prices were lower in the area that produced a certain good and higher in an area that had to import it. Now for the first time prices seemed to be relatively equal due to the steam engine in the railroads. (Johnson, 35) The industry that the steam engine developed depended on transport of raw materials. The steam engine in ships carried these raw materials as well as finished products through waterways, for long distances. Goods could be transported by water at a speed of 20 miles per hour, which is a lot faster and economical than other methods. Because of the steam engine, countries could now import and export with other countries at a faster pace than the wooden ships. 'Road Locomotives were fitted to carry out relatively long and fast journeys, hauling big loads on the hard road surfaces. This was an alternative to transporting products through railways, because there was a lack of the choice of routes.' (Wise, 56) The steam engine used in these 'Road Locomotives', provided yet another means of transporting goods from one place to another quickly and directly which was important in transporting. Road locomotives were extremely efficient ...

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