To begin a subject properly you must begin at the beginning.
Boys who don't like history need not read this chapter, for in it we tell how the steam engine began, and if it never had begun, you know, there would never have been any engineers, nor any necessity for writing this book.
For two or three generations we have had the story of James Watt told us; how when a boy and watching his mother's tea-kettle one day he saw the steam lift the lid, and that suggested the idea that if a little steam could lift the lid of a kettle, a great deal would lift still heavier weights and revolutionize the world.
Now they tell us that Watt was not the first one to have this idea by several, that it was first suggested by the Marquis of Worcester, in his book called the "Century of Inventions," as "a way to drive up water by fire," A. D. 1663.
This was about a hundred years before Watt came on deck, but the marquis never put his idea into practice, and Watt did, so to the latter the credit belongs.
Here are a few dates:
Watt's invention of the separate condenser, 1765; Watt's first patent, 1769; Watt's first working engine introduced into a manufactory, 1775; first steam engine erected in Ireland, 1791; first steamboat run on the Hudson, 1797; first steamboat abroad, 1801.
First regular steamboat ever run was from Albany to New York. The name of the boat was the North River, her builder was Robert Fulton, and she made the passage in 33 hours.
The first railroad was built in England, in 1811.
The first ocean steamer was the Savannah, an American craft of 350 tons, which sailed from New York for Liverpool, July 15, 1819, making the voyage in 26 days.
Such were the early beginnings of steam.
There are three principal kinds of engineers, locomotive, steamboat and stationary.
In this little book we propose to deal mainly with the duties of a locomotive engineer.