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December 24, 1801 – The Puffing Devil

British inventor and mining engineer Richard Trevithick introduced a steam powered contraption he named the Puffing Devil on this day in 1801. Trevithick, who would go onto patent the first high powered steam engine, demonstrated his transportation system by carrying six passengers up Fore Street and up Camborne Hill in Camborne, UK. Just three days later the machine broke down and operators left it unattended with the first still burning. The water evaporated and the engine burned, destroying the vehicle.

He would continue to build a series of locomotives, furthering development of the modern railroad. Portrait of TrevithickA replica of Trevithick’s Puffing Devil, built by the Trevithick Society and regularly demonstrated in Cornwall. By Chris Allen, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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