A GREAT interest was manifested at Liverpool and throughout the country at the approaching competition. Engineers and scientific men arrived from all quarters of the world, to witness the trial of mechanical skill about to be displayed.
On the day appointed the following engines were upon the spot, and entered for the prize:
THE NOVELTY, made by Messrs. Braithwait and Ericsson.
THE SANS-PAREIL, made by Mr. Timothy Hocklvorth.
THE ROCKET, made by Messrs. Stephenson and Co., Newcastle.
THE PERSERVERENCE, made by Sir. Burtstall.
The day of trial was changed from the 1st to the 6th of October, in order to give the new engines time to get in good working- order. Many thousand spectators were present. The Rocket, although not the first entered, was, nevertheless, the first ready for the trial. The piece of road to be used for the occasion was two miles in length, upon which the locomotives were to travel to and fro. The distance run by the Rocket was about twelve miles in fifty-three minutes. The Novelty was next tried. It was a very complicated machine, carrying the water and fuel upon the same wheels as the engine, and the whole weighed three tons one hundred lbs. On account of some difficulty in determining the load she was to draw, she was not tested like the Rocket, but was run over the road, making sometimes twenty-four miles per hour.
The Sans-pareil was next tried, but no particular experiment was made on that day.
The contest was postponed until the following day, but, before the judges arrived upon the ground, the bellows for creating the draught or blast in the Novelty gave way, and it was incapable of going through its performance. A defect was also discovered in the boiler of the Sans-pareil, and time was allowed to get it repaired. Meantime, Mr. Stephenson, to lessen the disappointment to the vast crowd assembled to witness these experiments by the delay, brought out the Rocket and attached it to a coach containing thirty persons, and ran it along the road at the rate of from twenty-six to thirty miles an hour, much to the delight and gratification of the spectators. The judges then ordered the Rocket to be in readiness the following morning to go through its trial according to the prescribed conditions.
On the morning of October 8, 1829, the Rocket was again upon the road for the contest. The fire-box was filled with coke, the fire lighted, and the steam raised until it lifted the safety- valve loaded to the pressure of fifty pounds to the square inch. These preparations occupied fifty-seven minutes. The engine being started on its journey, dragged after it thirteen tons' weight in carriages or wagons, and made the first ten trips backward and forward upon the two miles of the road, running the thirty- five miles, including stoppages, in one hour and forty-eight minutes. ,
The second ten trips were in like manner accomplished in two hours and three minutes. The maximum velocity of the Rocket during the trial-trip was about twenty-nine miles an hour, or three times the speed that one of the judges had declared to be the limit of possibility.
Neither the Novelty nor the Sans-pareil was ready for trial until the 10th. The weight of carriages attached to the Novelty was only seven tons. In starting, the engine went off in fine style for the two miles, but, on returning, the pipe for the forcing-pump burst and put an end to the trial. The pipe having been repaired, the engine made a trial-trip, without a load, and is said to have run from twenty-four to twenty-eight miles an hour.
The Sans-pareil was not ready until the l3th, and, when the boiler and tender were filled with water, it weighed 400 lbs. beyond the prescribed conditions of four-wheel engines; but nevertheless the judges allowed it to run upon the same footing as the others, and it traveled at the average speed of fourteen miles an hour, with its load; but at the eighth trip the cold-water pipe got out of order, and it could proceed no farther. It was then determined by the judges to award the prize to the successful engine on the following day, October l8th.
When the trial commenced, the Novelty again broke down. The builder of the Sans-pareil requested an other trial, but the judges decided that she was beyond the prescribed weight, and besides consumed and wasted too much coke to make her a successful competitor, using 692 lbs. of coke per hour when running.
The Perseverance was then tried for the first time, and found unable to move more than five or six miles an hour.
The Rocket was the only engine that had performed all the stipulated conditions, and the prize of £500 was accordingly awarded to its makers. The Rocket had eclipsed all other engines that had as yet been constructed, and determined the question of the use of locomotive power upon the Liverpool and Manchester Railroad.
Our narrative now brings us down to the period when locomotives were first introduced into the United States, A. D. 1829. Two important railroads had been commenced, and were in successful working-order, as far as they had been built. But horse-power upon levels, and stationary engines upon steep inclines, were the only powers resorted to. Locomotives had not yet been introduced. The experiments in England had been heard of in this country, and were frequently discussed by those interested in the success of railroads.
The experiments of Mr. Stephenson had been carefully watched. His name and fame, as an eminent engineer, were familiar to the minds of the people of this country. His success with his "Rocket" excited the liveliest interest here, and equally as much so as in England. His bearing of the £500 prize was hailed with rapture by thousands in America, who admired him for his genius and indomitable perseverance.
We will now leave Mr. Stephenson and his improvements in England, and turn to the period of 1829, in the United States, when, although, as before said, two important railroads and two coal-roads were in successful progress, or in operation in different sections of the country, yet, as in England in its earliest day, for mining purposes, only horse-power was used, and no attempt had been made to construct a locomotive, nor had one been imported from abroad.