Corliss Centennial Engine, Philadelphia 1876

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  • Item Category: Fine Art
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Jul 02,2010
  • Channel: Online Auction
The Corliss Centennial Engine was an all-inclusive, specially-built rotative beam engine that powered virtually all of the exhibits at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 through shafts totaling over a mile in length. Switched on by President Ulysses Grant and Emperor Dom Pedro of Brazil, the engine was in public view for the duration of the fair.

The engine was configured as two cylinders side-by-side. Each cylinder was bored to 44 inches (1.1 m) with a stroke of 10 feet (3.0 m), making it the largest engine of the nineteenth century. The Centennial Engine was 45 feet (14 m) tall, had a flywheel 30 feet (9.1 m) in diameter, and produced 1,400 hp. After the fair it was disassembled and shipped back to Corliss's plant in Providence. Seven years later it was sold and powered a Chicago factory owned by George Pullman until 1910, when it was sold as scrap.

This engine became a cultural icon, so much so that to many modern historians the term Corliss Engine (or Corliss Steam Engine) refers to this specific engine and not to the broad class of engines fitted with Corliss valve gear.

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