Tag Archives: age of steam

1879 Darby Steam-Digger

c. 1879 The Darby steam-digger


“Image with consent of the descendants of Robert Hasler.

“The Darby Steam-Digger, a light traction engine, was invented circa 1879 by farmer Thomas Darby and built at Lodge Farm Pleshey, near Chelmsford in Essex, England. Robert Hasler, seen driving the Digger, helped to build this first prototype.

“In effect the machine was an early tractor designed mainly for ploughing, and could accomplish 1-acre (4,000 m2) an hour (1 m²/s) to a maximum depth of 14 inches (360 mm). This first digger was constructed on pedestrian principles and had six “feet” and really did walk over the fields. Unfortunately it jumped too much to be really successful. The digger was later modified to have wheels in place of the legs.”

– Wikipedia


Filed under Humor and Observations

Flirtation Rules – 1800s

1800s:  Flirtation rules


Filed under Humor and Observations

1883 Illustrated Guide to Insane People

This is a pretty chilling look into the ‘state of the art’ definition of insanity in 1883.  This is an illustrated guide published to help other ‘mental health’ professionals at the time with diagnosis and treatment, a precursor to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, known as the DSM-IV-TR, or the fourth version, text revision.  Chances are in the Age of Steam you would be locked up in a cell for the rest of our life if you were considered a risk to self or others.

1883:  Illustrated Guide to Insane People


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1876: Cutting Edge Machinery

The Centennial in 1876 included the showcase of modern machinery in Philadelphia.  Remember, there were no machines to speak of just 50 years earlier.  Manpower, supplemented by horse power, was all there had been.  The Age of Steam brought about the Industrial Revolution, created larger cities, factories and changed everything we know.  The Civil War had ended just 12 years earlier and the Indian Wars were still going on.  Every picture you see of a machine was made without machining tools, computers or even the ability to improve on earlier designs.  The cross country railroad was being built but rails still suffered from a lack of standard gauge tracks.  Electricity and oil had yet to prove themselves as the energy of the future and were just beginning to be explored.

1876:  The Machinery Hall at the Centennial Exhibition Philadelphia

“During the Centennial year of 1876, Philadelphia was host to a celebration of 100 years of American cultural and industrial progress. Officially known as the “International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine,” the Centennial Exhibition, the first major World’s Fair to be held in the United States, opened on May 10th.”

Click a photo to enlarge, then you can arrow left or right to see the rest in full screen.

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Write Westerns? Great Resource for Writing…

This is another of the many great resources I have found as an author.  I write a lot of historical fiction, including Steampunk.  The “Age of Steam” is considered to be around 1830 to 1900, and closely associated with the Victorian Era as a result.  However, lots of stuff happened in the United States at that time, as well as other countries.  In America, we had westward expansion, the Civil War, the trans-continental railroad, the invention of metal, steam-powered navies, and massive industrialization.  My book, The Travelers’ Club – Fire and Ash, crosses America in 1880 and I did months of research to get all of the historical information correct.  A bit added here and there really adds flavor to a story.  For western “slang” appropriate to the time period, I found this site:



A Writer’s Guide to the Old West

1860’s ~ 1880’s

Being a small compilation drawn from period newspapers, books, and memoirs

Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show Players

Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show Players

The thing I like most about sites like this, is that they are well researched.  This one takes words and phrases from actual newspaper, books and memoirs written by westerners from the 1860s through the 1880s.  You can only throw a bit of jargon at readers or they get confused, but a smattering here and there lends a great deal of authentic feel to the story.  Michael Stackpole told me he likes to read journals of people during the time of his books, so he can find those rare gems of information lost to regular historical accounts.  It was great advice.

At the bottom of the site are all sorts of other useful links as well!

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