James Rumsey

James Rumsey
James Rumsey-1957.11.2.jpg
James Rumsey
Born1743
Died(1792-12-21)December 21, 1792
CitizenshipUnited States
OccupationEngineer
Engineering career
ProjectsPatowmack Company
Significant designwater-tube boiler;
steam powered water-jet propulsion

James Rumsey (1743–1792) was an American mechanical engineer chiefly known for exhibiting a boat propelled by machinery in 1787 on the Potomac River at Shepherdstown in present-day West Virginia before a crowd of local notables, including Horatio Gates. A pump driven by steam power ejected a stream of water from the stern of the boat and thereby propelled the boat forward.

Early life

Little is known about Rumsey until he was living in Bath, Virginia, (now Berkeley Springs, West Virginia) in 1782. He likely had moved to the area with his family some years before the American Revolution, from Cecil County, Maryland, where he had helped to run the family water mill at Bohemia Manor.[1] His cousin was Benjamin Rumsey, a notable Maryland jurist and statesman, who also grew up at Bohemia Manor. In Bath, he built houses, became a partner in a mercantile business, and helped to run a boarding house and tavern called the "Sign of the Liberty Pole and Flag."

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