'The Falls of Niagara', 1849. Local people noted that the thunder of Niagara Falls was so loud it could be heard from 46 miles away.
Image: Science Museum / SSPL

A mighty sound

Many people were astonished by steam engines. George Head recalled watching two steam engines blowing air into iron furnaces:

'No verbal description can do justice to the awful effect produced... not a word, though delivered with the utmost effort, was heard... I have listened to a storm on the Atlantic, I have stood on the Table Rock at Niagara, yet never did I hear a sound in nature equal to this.'