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Steam Roller

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This is an 1899 model Aveling & Porter steam roller, used to compress and level road surfaces. Aveling & Porter were an English manufacturing company that in the 19th century made more than half of all steam rollers sold in the world. This may have been owned by the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts - there was a warrant on the 1898 town meeting to appropriate $250 to purchase a "road machine." The machine is powered by steam, rather than the more familiar gasoline-powered, internal combustion engine. In 1899, there were no such engines capable of moving as massive a piece of equipment as this, and by then there had been decades of experience using steam in this kind of application. But the internal combustion engine would soon overtake it, as it was increasingly applied to all kinds of moving vehicles. Despite this, Aveling & Porter continued making steam engine road rollers well into the 1920s. <BR> <BR>This photograph comes from the Howes Brothers collection of photographs. The Howes Brothers, based in Ashfield, Massachusetts, made more than 20,000 images of New England rural life from 1890 to around 1910, offering a glimpse into the lives of people rarely visible in history.


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