American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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The Navy's Forge

Navy Yard, Forge Tilt-Hammer
Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820)
Navy Yard, Forge Tilt-Hammer
Engineering drawing of plans,
elevations, sections, and details
Graphite, ink, and watercolor,
July 1, 1811
Prints & Photographs Division

Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who served as engineer to the Navy Department beginning in 1804, was among this nation's earliest proponents of steam power. He supervised the construction of a pioneering industrial complex powered by a single steam engine at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Latrobe's own rendering of the complex's 3,700-pound forge hammer illustrates the mechanism used to work balls of heated scrap iron into useful form. It was powered by the shaft at the left, that connected it to the steam engine and was capable of 98 to 100 strokes per minute, which were tripped by a cam wheel.

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