For nearly half a century, James Watt's steam engine was used as a power source almost exclusively for stationary purposes. The early machine was bulky and very heavy so that its somewhat obvious applications as a source of power for transportation were not readily solved. Indeed, the first forms of transport that made use of steam power were developed not in Great Britain, but in France and the United States. In those two nations, inventors constructed the first ships powered by steam engines. In this country, Robert Fulton's steam ship Clermont, built in 1807, was among these early successes.
During the first two decades of the nineteenth century, a handful of British inventors solved the host of problems posed by placing a steam engine within a carriage-type vehicle and using it to transport people and goods. In 1803, for example, Richard Trevithick had built a "steam carriage" with which he carried passengers through the streets of London. A year later, one of his steam-powered locomotives pulled a load of ten tons for a distance of almost 10 mi (16 km) at a speed of about 5 MPH (8 km/h).
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