How Steam Blew The Rowdies Out Of The Fire Departments

The old volunteer system was colorful, but it could do more harm than good—and the efficiency of machinery finally replaced it

Progress usually has more enemies than friends at first, and such was the case with the steam engine. But long after this engine had been accepted (or tolerated) for factory use and for railroad or ship propulsion, there was resistance to steam fire engines. Here the objection was not merely on religious, safety, or esthetic grounds. The volunteer firemen and their numerous admirers could, perhaps subconsciously, see a threat to their way of life. Longer than almost anyone else, firemen resisted the Industrial Revolution.Read more »

Tears And Laughter

A Portfolio of Sentimentals and Comics by Currier & Ives

They were, without question, the busiest people on earth. When they were not fighting Indians, Mexicans, or each other, they were hacking a nation of cities, farms, and factories out of the continental wilderness. In spare moments they built graceful steamboats, high-stepping railroad engines, and tall sailing ships to seek the world’s commerce. Rough, practical, hard-handed, these Nineteenth-Century Americans were, yet sentimental to the core. They hung mottoes seriously.