19th Century: Public & Private Steam Transportation

Some of us inspected hundreds of 19th century photographs. We are used to seeing horse carriages and horse cars on city streets. First cable cars can be spotted in late the 1860s, though these were allegedly invented in 1820s. First electric tram car was tested in 1875 in Russia, and that about matches available photographs. This is our narrative.

City Streets
But now and then, we have a pleasure of seeing city streets similar to the ones below. In this case we have Chicago and New York. Streets are wide, and given an opportunity, our contemporary cars would have done just fine in these streets.
  • Question: were these streets designed for horses and horse carriages?
    • What if they were not?
    • And, if streets were designed for motorized traffic, where are the photographs?
      • Where are 1850s, 1860s, and may be 1870s , 1880s and 1890's photographs where these vehicles occupy city streets or any other roadways?
What did they drive in 1835?

1860 Source

KD: Let's take a look at some of the 19th century streets now.




Source + Source





1891 or 1898
easter 5th av nyc 1890.jpg

Source + Source


If we were to believe drawings similar to the one below, there were some pretty wide streets back in the day.



Steam Carriage
Nothing is hidden. At the same time, separating glimpses of a possible reality from the narrative can be a tedious task. Personally, I always look for details not advertised by the PTB. I am not gonna cover any steam vehicles pertaining to the 18th century. The 19th century is hard enough.

In 1801 Richard Trevithick constructed an experimental steam-driven vehicle (Puffing Devil) which was equipped with a firebox enclosed within the boiler, with one vertical cylinder, the motion of the single piston being transmitted directly to the driving wheels by means of connecting rods.
  • It was reported as weighing 1520 kg fully loaded, with a speed of 14.5 km/h (9 mph) on the flat.
  • During its first trip it was left unattended and was "self destructed".

Trevithick soon built the London Steam Carriage that ran successfully in London in 1803, but the venture failed to attract interest and soon folded up.
  • The London Steam Carriage was an early steam-powered road vehicle constructed by Richard Trevithick in 1803 and the world's first self-propelled passenger-carrying vehicle.
  • Not all the details of the carriage are known but the drawings which accompanied the original patent have survived, as have contemporary drawings made by a naval engineer who was sent to examine it. Further information has also been obtained from eyewitness accounts.
  • Following its completion, the London Steam Carriage was driven about 10 miles (16 km) through the streets of London to Paddington and back via Islington, with seven or eight passengers, at a speed of 4–9 miles per hour (6.4–14.5 km/h), the streets having been closed to other traffic.
  • On a subsequent evening, Trevithick and his colleague crashed the carriage into some house railings and, as a result of this, plus lack of interest in the carriage by potential purchasers, and its demonstrations having exhausted the inventors' financial resources, it was eventually scrapped, the engine being used in a mill which made hoops for barrels.
In the above video we have a replica of the Trevithick's Steam Carriage. It looks pretty big, if you ask me. Below, we have a drawing from this 1891 book.


As was stated above, "Not all the details of the carriage are known...". Who knows what size people it was originally designed to carry?

Steam Buses
There was an amphibious steam powered craft developed in 1805 as well, but let's move up to 1820s-1830s. That's when (allegedly) first buses entered the stage. A steam bus is a bus powered by a steam engine. Early steam-powered vehicles designed for carrying passengers were more usually known as steam carriages, although this term was sometimes used to describe other early experimental vehicles too.
  • Regular intercity bus services by steam-powered buses were pioneered in England in the 1830s by associates of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney and by Walter Hancock among others, running reliable services over road conditions which were too hazardous for horse-drawn transportation.
  • Steam carriages were much less likely to overturn, and did not "run away with" the customer as horses sometimes did.
  • They travelled faster than horse-drawn carriages (24 mph over four miles and an average of 12 mph over longer distances).
  • They could run at a half to a third of the cost of horse-drawn carriages.
  • Their brakes did not lock and drag like horse-drawn transport (a phenomenon that increased damage to roads).
  • According to engineers, steam carriages caused one-third the damage to the road surface as that caused by the action of horses' feet.
    • Indeed, the wide tires of the steam carriages (designed for better traction) caused virtually no damage to the streets, whereas the narrow wheels of the horse drawn carriages (designed to reduce the effort required of horses) tended to cause rutting.
Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, here is what happened next.
  • However, the heavy road tolls imposed by the Turnpike Acts discouraged steam road vehicles and left the way clear for the horse bus companies, and from 1861 onwards, harsh legislation virtually eliminated mechanically propelled vehicles altogether from the roads of Great Britain for 30 years, the Locomotive Act of that year imposing restrictive speed limits on "road locomotives" of 5 mph in towns and cities, and 10 mph in the country.
  • In 1865 the Locomotives Act of that year (the famous Red Flag Act) further reduced the speed limits to 4 mph in the country and just 2 mph in towns and cities, additionally requiring a man bearing a red flag to precede every vehicle. At the same time, the act gave local authorities the power to specify the hours during which any such vehicle might use the roads.
  • In 1881, the engineer John Inshaw built a steam carriage for use in Aston, Birmingham, UK. Capable of carrying ten people at speeds of up to 12 mph, Inshaw discontinued his experiments due to the legislation then in force.
Source: Steam bus
Images and Photographs
A while ago I wrote a small article covering some of the early steam buses. Don't think I did a good enough job there. I will borrow some of the images from that article. Let's see what them 19th century savages had back then.

1827 Goldsworthy Gurney Steam Carriage


1833 Hancock's Enterprise Steam Omnibus


1830s Bus Stop
In 1829 Hancock built a small ten-seater bus called the Infant, with which in 1831 he began a regular service between Stratford and London. It was powered by an oscillating engine carried on an outrigger behind the back axle.
  • The boiler was vertical and made up of a series of narrow parallel water chambers.
  • A fire was situated beneath the boiler and the fire was fanned by bellows worked by the engine.
  • There was a hopper to feed in the coke.
  • Walter Hancock - Graces Guide
  • KD: They probably chose to omit any coal smoke from the images, right?
Steam carriages Autopsy, Era and Infant
Walter Hancock carriage.jpg


Able to accommodate 50 passengers...



A Load of BS
The below excerpt is from a book written in 1900. Isn't it amazing that we consider ourselves to be smart, yet are gullible enough to believe in something like that?


Check out this weirdo riding a horseless carriage in 1862. This is unacceptable, and he needs to get along with the program. We wanna see horses and donkeys.


Test drive of a steam truck in Berlin in 1880. System by A. Bollée, patent dated July 17, 1879. Tractor with five trailers and a load of 5,000 t.
  • KD: I'm not sure on the weight.

A test drive of a new steam car on the Charlottenburger Chaussee near Berlin. This is about as much as was readily available about this vehicle.

I have this feeling that we are being played for fools here. I understand that the narrative compliant explanation for the visual resemblance and similar levels of technological advancement could sound like this:
  • They do look similar, because we picked up where we left off.
On the right: L'Obéissante steam bus photographed in 1875.
  • Amédée père manufactured his first steam vehicle the L'Obéissante in 1873 and made the first road trip between Paris and Le Mans in 18 hours.
  • The L'Obéissante carried 12 passengers and had a cruising speed of 30 km/h (19 mph) and a top speed of 40 km/h (25 mph).
KD: Sounds like the PTB was able to successfully justify passing 1830s tech for 1870s tech.






















I think it's their smaller bus






Personal Steam Powered Transportation
It's only logical to assume, that along with public steam powered transportation, there had to be personal steam powered vehicles navigating those wide 19th century streets.









I'm a bit tired from saving and posting images. There were tons of steam vehicles in the end of the 19th century: buses, cars, trucks, bicycles, tricycles.

~50 years prior, in 1828, the following image was published:
  • The Progress of Steam. A View in Regent's Park, 1831', 1828. Steam-powered coaches, horses, tricycles, including one with body like a teapot, are speeding along or blowing up and causing traffic chaos in Regent's Park, London.

In 1831 they followed up with the below drawing.


Remarkable, but 1830s and 1870s vehicles look very similar. Of course, we need to remember that:


Here is my distorted take on the above:
  • I have this feeling that after approximately 1839, the PTB went straight to 1871.
    • It's like 30 years in between have never existed.
  • Check out these fake US Civil War photographs fraudulently dated with 1860s.
    • Nice quality images, aren't they? Some even have great quality for the claimed 1860s.
  • Take a look at these 1850s, 1860s and 1870s abandoned cities. Check out 1878 San Francisco.
    • Once again, the quality is above satisfactory for the respective dates.
  • Where are the high quality photographs of the steam powered vehicles?
Main question:
  • We have many "portrait" type photographs of various steam vehicles between 1873-ish and 1900.
  • We have thousands of photographs of the actual city streets covering the same time gap.
  • QUESTION: How come we do not see any of these vehicles in their natural environment?
    • Meaning either being driven, or parked next to a curb.
But guess what?
  • In 1880, New York City removed 15,000 dead horses from the street.
  • Chicago removed 9,202 horse carcasses as late as 1916.
How about this?
  • It's estimated that each horse produced 15-30 pounds of manure per day.
  • Remember, the horse population in New York City was about 170,000 in the 1880s.
    • That means there were 3-4 million pounds of manure piling onto city streets each day.
  • In 1894, the Times of London estimated that every street in the city would be buried 9 feet deep in horse manure by 1950.
  • A New York editorial estimated that horse manure would rival the height of Manhattan's 30-story buildings by 1930.
    • Also, each horse produced about a quart of urine daily.
    • That makes about 40,000 gallons per day in New York and Brooklyn.
By 1894, the world was in shit crisis, and they were not kidding saying that. Look at these streets.
1890s San Francisco
1890s San Francisco.jpg


1893 NYC


1893 NYC



By 1894, every major city in the world was buried in horse shit.
  • Why did it happen by 1894 and not earlier?
    • Did they not have centuries of experience, and developed infrastructure that was handling it before?
    • It appears that cities clearly did not have this developed manure handling infrastructure.
      • Why not?
Now let's watch one short 1890s video.
  • Please pay attention to the road surface for signs of excessive manure.
  • Evaluate the volume of the horse traffic.
  • How many motorized vehicles can you count?
1890s Paris

Here is what I DID and DID NOT see in the clip:
  • I did not see a single motorized vehicle.
    • Ironically, a good chunk of the above posted photographs depict French made steam powered vehicles.
  • I did see hundreds of horse carriages.
  • I did not see any manure indicating that this horse traffic is a daily occurrence.
    • There were some bits and pieces. Those were probably produced by the fake "on camera" procession.
  • I did not see a single manure clean up crew.
Methinks, the video was staged.

KD Summary: To be honest, that's some pretty elaborate crap. When were photographs of some of the above steam powered buses really made?

If transporting people was the only thing those 1820s-1830s steam engines could do, that's one thing. But...
  • A steam powered bus capable of transporting 20-50 people at an average speed of 12-15 MPH (with max speed of 21 MPH) in 1832-36, could also be turned into a truck, and transport construction materials.
  • The exact same is valid for the agricultural needs.
  • Would military industrial complex ignore a superior mode of transportation in favor of horses? I don't think so.
Why did they have The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894?
  • Some time prior to it, horses were not required, because motorized vehicles were used. Streets were clean.
  • Something happened, and using motorized vehicles was no longer an option.
    • People were forced to start using horses. Horses covered city streets in piss and shit.
  • Motorized traffic was re-introduced, and streets became clean again.
Could it be the case? I don't know, but something in the narrative is not adding up.
  • Where are the photographs showing the abovementioned steam powered vehicles being a part of everyday traffic?
Please feel free to share your opinion.
Again, some kind of gap between steam engines and internal combustion engines. I immediately remember the trams towed by horses and called horse trams, and then they again become trams.
The only thought is that people were simply forced to use horses at a certain time period.

But the history of steam engines did not even begin in the 19th century, for a hundred years they should have evolved very well. just look at the evolution of cars. But no, people for some reason stubbornly held on to the horses. All this is strange.

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Maybe they were using coal in early 1800, then after cactlysmic events arround 1850, coal wasn't accessible anymore (mud covering coal mines, and trees where completly wiped-out).

Like you said many times KD, it could be that the 19th century is completly streched-up and lasted for maybe 200 years.
Maybe steam engines where in used as early as the so called 18th century along with zeplins and air balloons.

All those numerised pictures could be dated from God knows when.
Steam carriages Autopsy
Kind of a weird name for a car, right? Maybe it's referring to an earlier definition but wiki says:
The term "autopsy" derives from the Ancient Greek αὐτοψία autopsia, "to see for oneself", derived from αὐτός (autos, "oneself") and ὄψις (opsis, "sight, view").The word “autopsy” has been used since around the 17th century, it refers to the examination of inside the dead human body to discover diseases and cause of death.
I mean, as much as I think it would appropriate, I doubt anyone would want to ride in a Ford Enema...

The video of Paris linked in the post is from the Lumiere brothers. So, it's post 1895, according to the narrative. They're famous for, among others, the "Arrival of a Train" film, which is well-known for supposedly scaring the crap out of the audience. The narrative has somewhat backed off of this account, as time as gone on. If you want to know more, there's a wiki on it:
But, with all these old films, I always wonder about the chain of custody. Haven't found anything specific about this Paris film in particular yet, but here's the sort of thing I generally find when looking into these old film companies:
The George Eastman Museum has recently acquired and restored a rare collection of eighteen Lumière films. The nitrate reels, all in nearly pristine condition, consist of seven 35mm negatives and eleven 35mm positive prints, dating approximately between 1896 and 1903...

...The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, were French inventors who manufactured an early motion picture camera and projector called the Cinématographe. They are credited with creating the first motion picture for theatrical projection, La Sortie des ouvriers de l’usine Lumière (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory), which debuted at the Grand Café in Paris on December 28, 1895, marking the official beginning of cinema history. The Lumière brothers’ films recorded everyday life and scenic views in France and worldwide—from trains pulling into stations, notable cities, and landscapes, to people playing cards, soldiers marching, and a mother feeding her baby.

Relatively few original negatives of Lumière films are known to survive outside France. Most of them are preserved at the Archives françaises du film of the Centre national de la cinématographie (CNC) in Bois d’Arcy and by the Institut Lumière in Lyon. Of the eighteen films recently acquired by the Eastman Museum, five have been officially identified. The films include footage from a variety of locations, such as soldiers at camp in Madrid and Paris, scenes from the 1896 Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva, steam fire engines in Ireland, and sailors off the coast of Croatia. They range in length from 15 seconds to nearly three minutes.

“Finding a collection of Lumière prints and negatives in almost mint condition, 120 years after their creation, is nothing short of extraordinary,” said Paolo Cherchi Usai, senior curator, Moving Image Department, George Eastman Museum. “Their survival is a testimony to the resilience and longevity of cinematic artworks on nitrate film stock, whose preservation and public exhibition in their original medium and format is at the core of our mission as a collecting institution.”
"Nothing short of extraordinary", but seems to happen a lot with these old films. We lose 'em, but they're totally fine when we find them. Because film is basically indestructible, right?

Maybe I'll try to pour though the French language sites later on (unless one of you lovely native French speakers would like to!)

Anyway, I suspect that a lot of these films were re-enactments, possibly produced decades later. There's no shortage of such things:
What if streets paved with asphalt, or concrete were not meant for horse traffic.
  • USA: Asphalt was first used to pave streets in the 1870s. At first naturally occurring "bituminous rock" was used, such as at Ritchie Mines in Macfarlan in Ritchie County, West Virginia from 1852 to 1873. In 1876, asphalt-based paving was used to pave Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, in time for the celebration of the national centennial.
  • UK: The first British patent for the use of asphalt was "Cassell's patent asphalte or bitumen" in 1834. In 1838, there was a flurry of entrepreneurial activity involving asphalt, which had uses beyond paving.
  • Source
The first concrete pavement in the world was built in Inverness, Scotland, in 1865. Some of the concrete pavement laid in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1872 is still in use today.

Below we have two c.1906 images of the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza in Brooklyn, New York.

The next photograph was allegedly taken c.1907 in Indianapolis.

That's at least 1906 for all three of the above photographs. Well, these are the reported dates. In 1890, people were photographed while moving just fine. Here, 16 years later, we still see exposure issues.

You can obviously see horse carriages in all three images. That means that private transportation was allowed to travel on the presented roadways. We do not see steam, electric, gasoline or any other type of self propelled vehicles?



These are some ads from the below linked 1906 publication, containing hundreds of those ads. It also suggests that we should see consistent physical proof of cars being all over the place. Where is that proof in photographs?

KD: Were these streets built for horse traffic, or where are all the cars?
  • If these were built for horses, than where are all the bodily waste and fluids stains?
Wow, there's a lot to look at on this page. The amount of research you do is just phenomenal.
I've always felt that many of these streets in these old photos are way overbuilt if designed for horse powered traffic, but I hadn't considered the point you made about horse manure. Do you think that if one is going to go through all the effort to make paved roads and sidewalks that they might make some consideration for the manure, if the roads were really designed for horses? Like large gutters where the poop could easily be swept to the side?
I get a kick out of the steam powered vehicle in the first video, the Trevithick Road Locomotive. Why would you build something that is so tall? It looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss! Why does it need all that ground clearance if its going to be used on roads? If one relocated the barrel that's behind the front wheel and raised the platform at the back, the whole thing could be lowered by at least a foot. Note that the barrel is not shown on the drawing of the vehicle. Did they add that later to lower the center of gravity? Put some tractor wheels on it and use it to pick apples.
I did see a little gem in these pics though; in the pic of the 1897 De Dion Bouton Steam Tractor. The tractor itself does look very capable and practical and I could see it pulling wagons with goods as well as carriage type trailers as pictured. But what do we see behind the vehicle, looks like a powered trike to me! And its not steam powered, as the engine would be far larger. There is some sort of power plant behind his feet and there's a boxy thing on the rear axle. Its not pedal powered, or his feet wouldn't be side by side like that (with pedals one foot would be forward while one foot would be back, or one up while the other was down). Maybe electric powered? Could the boxy thing be a battery? Look at the size of the big round mechanism where one would normally expect a sprocket on a bicycle. One would typically want something that's powered by pedals to be as light as possible. Could that be an electric motor? I suppose, given 1897, that it could be a small gas engine, that could be the cylinder behind his calf, but I don't see an exhaust pipe.
There's so much to see on this page, but I have to go back to the horse manure thing. Can you imagine riding that trike, or a bicycle on a manure-strewn street? Wouldn't it clog up the tracks of those street cars/trams? And look at how clean the pavement is at the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza.
But what do we see behind the vehicle, looks like a powered trike to me! And its not steam powered, as the engine would be far larger.
It's their tricycle. I did not add it to the OP because it was not powered by steam.
  • The De Dion-Bouton motor tricycle went into production in 1897 weighing just under 80 kg, with an output of 1.5 HP at 1,800 RPM from its 211 cc motor, although the engine had already been established in a prototype tricycle in 1895.
  • De Dion-Bouton


Wow, the thorough nature of your research never ceases to amaze me. I have over 35 years in the motorcycle industry behind me so my eye is always drawn to bikes. I haven't seen this one before, even in my Encyclopedia of Motorcycles.
Interesting that these do have pedals like a bicycle. The riders in your pic above have their legs fore and aft as one would expect, unlike the guy in the De Dion steam tractor picture. So the engine is mounted on the rear axle. Still don't see an exhaust pipe, must have been noisy.
Sorry if I derailed your thread. The pics of the steam powered vehicles are pure eye candy too.
Wow, the thorough nature of your research never ceases to amaze me. I have over 35 years in the motorcycle industry behind me so my eye is always drawn to bikes. I haven't seen this one before, even in my Encyclopedia of Motorcycles.
Interesting that these do have pedals like a bicycle. The riders in your pic above have their legs fore and aft as one would expect, unlike the guy in the De Dion steam tractor picture. So the engine is mounted on the rear axle. Still don't see an exhaust pipe, must have been noisy.
Sorry if I derailed your thread. The pics of the steam powered vehicles are pure eye candy too.
Thanks Cemen. Crazy stuff. Looks like he had a hard time deciding where to place that exhaust.
This pic looks like his best version.


I've ridden all kinds of motorcycles in all kinds of situations over the years but when I look at the contraptions they were riding back then I've just gotta say no. Just look at the sturdy, beefy frame on this one. And I'm sure the powerplant was made of lightweight aluminum and titanium, too.


No wobbles there.
In this version he moved the exhaust further away from his butt. This version also shows how he was using the engine case as a stressed member of the frame (frame bolts to front and back of engine case rather than wrapping around the engine). Using the engine as a stressed member was supposed to be new tech in the 1980's.


I can imagine it got great fuel economy though, if you can stay on it. Apparently he couldn't.
So basically something happened to make steam-powered vehicles disappear for 40 or 50 years and most of the population. Then the number of people and horses gradually increased so much that animal waste became a problem and "someone" decided it was time to re-introduce motor vehicles?
Then the number of people and horses gradually increased so much that animal waste became a problem and "someone" decided it was time to re-introduce motor vehicles?
It’s hard to be 100% positive, but the way alleged facts are presented, does not make too much sense.

It does appear (to me) that this tech was used up to the point when certain events made it impossible to use it. Then came horses, and at some point conditions allowed for the pre-existing tech to be used again.
Much like the steam age the jet age, to use mainstream terminology, produces many ideas and inventions that do not work in practical everyday use. For example here is a jet powered bicycle made in 2012.


It is Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear riding it in a park. To get the full benefit of the problems its worth watching the video clip.

Reason for posting this the op machines could, and could is the operative word, be the steam ages version of the jet ages wackiness.
As almost always, I find great value in what jd posts, as I think it opens up all sorts of possibilities when interpreting what KD wrote, which I think is a factual summary:
It does appear (to me) that this tech was used up to the point when certain events made it impossible to use it. Then came horses, and at some point conditions allowed for the pre-existing tech to be used again.
We still do not really know what "certain events" and "conditions" fully mean and the explanations could be very mundane to wildly bizarre. Likely some unholy combination. I usually find that greed and ignorance are large motivating factors.
basically something happened to make steam-powered vehicles disappear for 40 or 50 years and most of the population.
I'm not sure I'd go that far because "disappeared" means "disappeared from the historical record." It's far easier to erase documentation than actual physical objects/entities. I also wouldn't even hazard a guess at how long occurred between events anymore, even in the 19th century (especially in the 19th century?). I really don't think that we (the majority of countries, the nebulous concept of "the world" ) were "synchronized" to the same year/timeline until WW1ish.
Check out these fake US Civil War photographs fraudulently dated with 1860s.
Wow, image after image after image of ‘corpses’ laid out, strewn in trenches and even littering the fields at Gettysburg- and not a single drop of blood or visible wound on any of them. How incredibly peculiar, for a war fought with rifles, cannons, and bayonets, that someone none of the corpses had been shot or stabbed. If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were just a bunch of guys lying down pretending to be dead!

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