Before steampunk got popular around 2006-08, there were only a few websites dedicated to it. Most of them are now gone.
Here is my effort to keep the memory of those — often hand-coded — websites alive.
Steampunk: Victorian Adventures in a Past That Wasn’t
Cory Gross’ was one of the earliest steampunk websites and one of the few with serious analysis and commentary about the genre. It contained separate sections for steampunk in Disney, steampunk anime and Gothic horror.
It was also one of the first sites to host a steampunk community, on Yahoo! Groups.
Best translated as “Retro Station”, Krzysztof Janicz’ website recently went dark. For many years, it mapped the history of steampunk and hosted the original steampunk comic Piechur.
Krzysztof shut down the English-language version of his site, Steampunkopedia, first in 2007, after he was banned from The Steampunk Forum, and then permanently in 2010, when he felt steampunk had been destroyed by tinkerers and activists.
The Polish version went offline in April 2018. The most recent version in the Wayback Machine is from February.
Sarah O’Donoghue’s website featured steampunk art, essays and original fiction, scientists (real and imagined) and a section about different forms of transportation in steampunk.
Steampunk Central appeared in 2001. Sarah stopped updating it a year later. A version of the website is still online, but most of it is broken. The Wayback Machine has saved a largely functional version from December 2007.
Anina and Paul Guinan’s original Boilerplate website did not make clear their robot was fictional and apparently some people thought it might be real!
OK, not “some people”. I. I thought it might be real. I was a kid!
Also read our review of their 2009 book.
Gothic Steam Phantastic
Yaghish’s website has been online since 2003. Originally a repository for his imaginary world of “Daleth”, it expanded to include steampunk articles and reviews. He also created one of the first steampunk message-board communities.
Gothic Steam Phantastic is still online.
From its inception in 2006 to the disappearance of its creator, “Tinkergirl”, in 2008, Brass Goggles was probably the most popular steampunk blog.
Tinkergirl later told me about her motivation for starting Brass Goggles:
I was doing Internet searches for all sorts of related keywords — steampunk, steam punk, Victorian science-fiction, vsf, goggles, Verne, Wells, etc., etc. I found several specialized sites — the ones I remember most are Steampunk Central and The Clockworkers Guild. Unfortunately, with an appetite as deep as I had, the sites I found were very quickly devoured. For a few weeks I tried all sorts of different searches and kept up with The Clockworkers Guild. Most of the specialized sites I found were either dormant, dead or geologically slow to update compared to what I was accustomed to in these days of daily blog posts.
I got annoyed that I couldn’t find a site that would update frequently, with high-quality goodies to ogle and learn about, and useful links to allow me to learn more about the juiciest information. In fact, it annoyed me so much that I decided I’d better do something about it. I was going to make the site that I had desperately wanted to find.
Dedicated to the “lighter side of steampunk,” Brass Goggles‘ popularity coincided with the burgeoning of steampunk as a DIY and fashion movement. Its message-board community, The Steampunk Forum, became hugely popular overnight.
After Tinkergirl stopped blogging, a group of contributors took over, including me. (You can find my posts here.) Things slowed down in subsequent years. The most recent posts are from 2013.
The Steampunk Tribune
Originally called Voyages of a Steampunk Physician and then The Heliograph, Rafael Fabre blogged at The Steampunk Tribune from 2007 to 2013. He linked generously to other steampunk websites, including our predecessor, The Gatehouse, and paid special attention to steampunk on Second Life.
Rafael stopped blogging in November 2013, in part due to real-life restraints and in part because he felt discouraged by attempts to politicize steampunk. (I took a sabbatical from steampunk myself around that time for the same reason. More about that, and my motivation for relaunching Never Was, here.)
Steamfashion was for a few years the most popular steampunk fashion community. Its heydays were 2008-12. Activity wound down in 2013. Maybe that’s when the fashionistas moved on to the next trend?
Steamfashion was also a little too keen on creating “rules” for steampunk costumes that didn’t make it easy for newbies.
The community, hosted by LiveJournal, remains online.
Blogs that are no longer updated, but still online:
Our own history
The Gatehouse, as this website was known from 2008 to 2018, was itself one of the earlier steampunk websites. You can read our history here.