Patent History Materials Index - Patent Materials from Scientific American, vol 1 old series (Sept 1845 - Aug 1846)

Scientific American, v 1 (os), no 2, p 2, 4 September 1845

Remarkable Prophecy

The following extract from a work published in Philadelphia twenty-four years ago, by Oliver Evans, is furnished to us by a paper of that city. [This was actually published in 1814, which would have made it thirty one years previously. KWD]

It appears that Mr. Evans, who contributed largely to the present advanced state of improvement in mechanic arts, conceived or entertained the idea of steam wagons and railroads anterior to the year 1773; for shortly after this period we find him applying to the Legislature of Pennsylvania and Maryland for aid to carry into effect his views on these subjects. The first rejected his memorial, or paid no attention to it, deeming its author INSANE! The last granted him a patent for fourteen years; but from the want of public confidence in the practicability of his schemes, and his own want or means, this patent was of no use to him. The Pennsylvanian says he lived and died comparatively poor and neglected, and was compelled to leave all his vast conceptions and designs to be executed by smaller minds and later days, as almost all the benefactors of our race have had to do before him.

"The time will come when people will travel in stages moved by steam engines, from one city to another, almost as fast as birds can fly, fifteen or twenty miles an hour.

"Passing through the air with such velocity, changing the scene in such rapid succession, will be the most exhilarating, delightful exercise. A carriage will set out from Washington in the morning, the passengers will breakfast at Baltimore, dine at Philadelphia, and sup at New York the same day.

"To accomplish this, two sets of railways will be laid, so nearly level as not in any place to deviate more than two degrees from a horizontal line, made of wood or iron, or smooth paths of broken stone or gravel, with a rail to guide the carriages, so that they may pass each other in different directions, and travel by night as well as by day; and the passengers will sleep in these stages as comfortably as they now do in steamboats.

"A steam engine that will consume from a quarter to half a cord of wood, will drive a carriage one hundred and eighty miles in twelve hours, with twenty or thirty passengers, and will not consume sixty gallons of water. The carriage will not be over-loaded with fuel or water.

"These engines will drive boats ten or twelve miles an hour, and there will be many hundred steamboats running on the Mississippi, and other western waters as prophesied thirty years ago, by one who could predict them (sic) better than the poet can now. But the velocity of boats through the water, can never be made to equal the velocity of carriages through the air, because the resistance of water is eight hundred times the resistance of air.

"And it shall come to pass that the memory of these sordid and wicked wretches who oppose such improvements, will be execrated by every good man as they ought to be now."

"Posterity will not be able to discover why the legislature, or congress, did not grant the inventor such protection as might have enabled him to put in operation these great improvements sooner, he having asked neither money, nor a monopoly of any existing thing. The clouds of darkness will be dissipated by time. It will be clearly discovered, that to protect inventions for sufficient terms, is the only way to get the discoveries sooner."


Scientific American v 1 (os), p 4, 13 November 1845

[This is the first Scientific American patent agency ad, dating from before Munn & Co. bought the magazine.]

Patent Agency

Drawings and other specifications of machines, with other papers requisite for procuring patents of new inventions, will be furnished at short notice, at the office of the Scientific American. No charge will be made for advice or instructions on the subject of securing patents.


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