Model of a steam-driven plough locomotive, c 1900

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Agriculture and Forestry
1900 - 1909
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Massive, fiery, dangerous: steam engines truly were the technological dinosaurs of the industrial revolution. To this day, steam-driven machines, locomotives and even ploughs have their enthusiasts.

Agricultural machinery is regarded as particularly exotic. Württemberg-born engineer Max Eyth was a leading expert in the field of steam-driven ploughs. From 1861 to 1882 he represented the sector’s foremost international manufacturer, i.e. the English company of John Fowler & Co. based in Leeds. He gave account of his many experiences in letters entitled Briefe eines Ingenieurs [Letters from an Engineer], which enjoyed a large readership.

When Eyth first began working for Fowler’s, a civil war was raging in the United States. Consequently, the country was no longer able to supply cotton. The Viceroy of Egypt seized this opportunity to boost the cultivation of cotton in the area around Cairo and sell the fibre crop to Europe’s textile mills. A steam-driven plough manufactured by Messrs. Fowler was capable of replacing up to 15 yokes of oxen or 250 workers. The orders coming in from Egypt enabled Fowler’s to triple its operations in Leeds.

After the end of the civil war Eyth began to open up the U.S. market for the steam plough. From 1866 to 1868 he marketed Fowler products in Louisiana. However, his endeavours were made all the more difficult by the devastation caused by the military conflicts, the arduous period of reconstruction, and the widespread corruption among politicians. Eyth also used this particular period to install tow-cable mechanisms for ships along canals and rivers using steam engines.

His travels took him to a number of European countries as well as Peru and Algeria. Fowler’s also marketed its products in India, China, Java and Australia and even as far afield as the islands of Fiji. After he stopped working for Fowler’s, Eyth returned to his home country and founded the Deutsche Landwirtschaftsgesellschaft or German Agricultural Society.

Date of origin: c. 1900

Inv.Nr. 21440

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