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 James Rumsey

James Rumsey

Birth
Cecil County, Maryland, USA
Death 24 Dec 1792 (aged 48–49)
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Burial Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 7075 · View Source
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Inventor. He was a mechanical engineer credited with exhibiting the first boat propelled by machinery on the Potomac River, in 1787. Prior to the American Revolution, he had relocated to Maryland, before settling in Bath, Virginia, in 1782. There he ran a water mill, built houses and became a partner in a mercantile business. In September 1784, George Washington contracted Rumsey to build a house and stable on property he owned at Bath. During this visit, he showed Washington a working model of a mechanical boat which he had designed with a bow mounted paddlewheel that worked poles to pull the boat upstream. In July 1785, Washington appointed Rumsey to work on the Potomac River clearing rocks for the Harper's Ferry Boat Company. Rumsey had concluded that the pole-boat design was limited and incorporated steam propulsion system to his design, making his boat much more useful. Thus, even though the work required much manual labor, his functional steam propelled craft became a constant ship for river use. His pole boat mechanism was abandoned in 1786, for a better boiler, more efficient, smaller and lighter, functioning steam engine. On December 3, 1787, his boat made a very successful public demonstration on the Potomac at Shepherdstown. His patents for all the pumps, motors and hydraulic cylinders of fluid power engineering, were issued in 1791, almost 40 years before it next turbine water steam system appeared in France.

Bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 23 Nov 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7075
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James Rumsey (1743–24 Dec 1792), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7075, citing St Margaret Churchyard, Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .