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George Stephenson


British inventor and engineer, who built the first practical railroad locomotive. Stephenson was born in Wylam, near Newcastle. During his youth he worked as a fireman and later as an engineer in the coal mines of Newcastle. He devised one of the first miner's safety lamps but shared credit for this invention with the British inventor Sir Humphry Davy, who developed a similar lamp at about the same time. Stephenson's early efforts in locomotive design were confined to constructing locomotives to haul loads in coal mines, and in 1823 he established a factory at Newcastle for their manufacture. In 1829 he designed a locomotive known as the Rocket, which hauled both freight and passengers at a greater speed than had any locomotive constructed up to that time. The success of the Rocket greatly stimulated the subsequent construction of locomotives and the laying of railroad lines.

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