How Much do you Know About the Age of Steam?

By: Becky Stigall

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

From the Industrial Revolution to today's distribution of electricity using steam turbines, the use of steam revolutionized the world. How much do you know about steam power?

How long did the age of steam last?

Steam and steam engines powered the world for about 200 years. Steam fell out of use on a large scale after the invention of the internal combustion engine.

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Is a steam engine an internal or external combustion machine?

Gasoline engines are internal combustion engines. However, steam engines are external combustion engines because the fuel that powers the engine is burned outside the engine.

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True or false? Steam power is an Industrial Revolution invention.

Actually, Greek mathematician Hero toyed with steam engines nearly 2,000 years ago. These experiments weren't turned into anything practical, however, until more than 1,600 years later.

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Who is considered the father of the modern steam engine?

Newcomen and Savery definitely had roles in the development of the practical use of steam. But it was Watt who parlayed steam into engine power.

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How is steam power used today?

Steam power is not the most popular form of power today. But it is still used to power submarine torpedoes, by electric companies to generate electricity and for other Navy propulsion systems.

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Which of the following is a type of steam engine?

All three of these are types of steam engine. Stationary engines are used in factories, locomotive engines are use in trains and cars and marine engines are used on ships.

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What issue plagued steam engines throughout their use?

Safety was a huge issue in the use of steam engines. Steam engines were prone to exploding without warning.

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What device enhanced the safe use of steam engines?

The lead plug was designed to melt and release built-up steam within an engine so it wouldn't explode. This feature greatly increased the safety of steam engines.

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What type of steam engine fuel was known to cause fires?

Although in Europe they used coke to power steam engines, U.S. railways used wood. As the wood burned, sparks flew from the smokestacks and often ignited the surrounding areas, the train itself and sometimes even the passengers.

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What smokestack invention helped prevent fires caused by sparks from locomotive engines?

After sparks burned up more than $60,000 on a train in 1832, the new stack was invented. The bonnet stack included a screen at the top that prevented sparks from escaping.

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What is the earliest use of steam on record?

There is evidence that steam was in use in Ancient Egypt. Simple steam engines were used to open and close temple doors in 280 B.C.

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Steam increased production during what historical era?

Advances during the Industrial Revolution were made possible by the invention of the steam engine. Practical use increased manufacturing dramatically.

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Before the use of steam, factories relied on what to power manufacturing?

Machines were powered by wind or water. Muscle power was provided by people and animals.

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What is another name for the Industrial Revolution?

The Industrial Revolution is known as the Age of Steam. This is because steam power enabled the advancement of many technologies during that time period.

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The Age of Steam is said to have begun in what country?

England was the first nation to put steam power to the test on a large scale. The nation's abundance of coal forced them to find inventive ways to mine it.

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The Industrial Revolution impacted which of the following factors?

The biggest impact of the Age of Steam may have been social. People moved from farms to cities as economic opportunities in cities increased.

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Who invented the first steam engine with a piston?

Dennis Papin designed an engine that was very much like a pressure cooker. Fortunately, he also invented a relief apparatus.

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Who invented the atmospheric engine?

Thomas Newcomen's invention enabled England to free up trapped coal resources below the surface. This 1712 invention is known as the first true steam engine.

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Who invented a way to increase piston speed within the steam engine?

John Smeaton's invention made the steam engine even more efficient. Smeaton has also been credited with inventing the term "civil engineer."

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Who is credited with building the first practical steam locomotive?

Richard Trevithick built the first practical locomotive to meet the need for transporting goods throughout industrial England. This 1801 invention first carried only passengers.

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Early locomotives first traveled on what?

It was originally thought that locomotives would need gear wheels and a cogged/toothed track for traction. Inventor Richard Trevithick proved that locomotives could haul goods on smooth rails.

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The first practical locomotive traveled nine miles in ____ hours.

Richard Trevithick's steam-propelled locomotive traveled nine miles in four hours. His later inventions enabled locomotives to pull wagons loaded with iron.

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Who invented America's first steam locomotive?

Peter Cooper is credited with inventing the first U.S. steam-powered locomotive. He is also credited with inventing the first washing machine.

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What was the nickname of the first U.S. miniature locomotive?

The Tom Thumb was made with musket barrels as boiler tubes. It was built by inventor Peter Cooper.

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Steam engines made what method of moving around practical?

Although railways existed before steam engines, the invention of engines powered by steam made traveling farther, faster a reality. Early railways used people and/or animals to pull wagons along rails.

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The first passenger trips by rail took place in what year in the U.S.?

Not entirely successful, the first passenger railways left passengers exposed to sparks from the wood-burning engines. The initial jerk from the engine starting was also said to knock passengers onto the floor.

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The first American railroads were powered by what?

Horses provided the power for the first railways. They were expensive to operate, though, which is why steam engines became so popular.

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The Tom Thumb, the most popular steam locomotive, was eventually replaced by what?

The York replaced Tom Thumb because it was more efficient and could travel faster and farther. The York could reach a top speed of 35 mph.

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What was the name of one of the most famous steam-powered cars?

The Stanley Steamer was invented by twin brothers, Francis Edgar and Freelan Oscar Stanley. The brothers eventually formed the Stanley Motor Carriage Company.

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Who is credited with inventing the steamboat?

Robert Fulton developed his inventions in France. France wasn't interested, though, so he came to the United States where there was interest in his inventions.

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What steamship was the first to cross the Atlantic?

The Sirius crossed the Atlantic in 1838. The ship traveled from Britain to New York.

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How much of the nation's electricity is produced by steam?

Roughly 90% of the nation's electricity is generated by steam. The steam turbines are powered mostly by fossil fuels.

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What steam-powered invention hit the air in 1863?

Gustave de Ponton d’Amecourt invented the first steam-powered helicopter. He also is credited with inventing the term "helicopter."

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One of the first steam-powered cars, the Stanley Steamer, went how fast?

The Stanley Steamer was clocked at 127 miles per hour at its fastest. It was the first car to go faster than a train.

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In France, in the late 1800s, you may have biked to work on what?

The velocipedes were the first steam-powered bicycles. They were in use in France in 1867.

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