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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Dr. Angus Sinclair


ANGUS SINCLAIR is a native of Forfar and was reared in Laurence-kirk, in the Mearns, Scotland. His father came from the Highlands when railway construction work began, and as a section-foreman was a model of intelligent industry. Angus was the oldest of four sons, one of the brothers was the late Professor Sir William Japp Sinclair, the noted surgeon of Manchester. Both parents were extremely anxious to give their children a good education. In these days wages were not high, and education was dear, but the family had a fondness for reading, and the mother had the narrative art in a marked degree. The desire to help each other was an admirable trait of the family. Working in the fields in summer and resuming their studies in winter, the lads grew up, and at fourteen Angus was a good English scholar. He began his railway career at Laurencekirk as a telegraph operator, and later was transferred as telegraph operator in the office of the locomotive superintendent. After two years spent at this work, he learned engineering in the railway shops at Arbroath. After running locomotives for several years, he passed a high examination in the Civil Service, and was employed for five years in the Customs Department in Montrose and London.

Dissatisfied with the work, he went to sea as a marine engineer, and in 1873 returned to railroading, in America. For two years he was employed by the Erie Railroad, and later worked as assistant civil engineer on several Western roads, including the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern. By this company he was appointed to run a locomotive on a branch line running to Iowa City, where he attended the chemistry classes of the State University between trains for two years, and was then appointed chemist of the railway, combined with the duties of round-house foreman.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sinclair had contributed articles to railway and other engineering publications, and in 1883 he joined the editorial staff of the American Machinist. A few years later he became President of the company, and afterward proprietor of Railway and Locomotive Engineering, an illustrated monthly publication of vast influence and circulation among railroad men.

He soon became a recognized leader in the better education of railroad men. His first book, Locomotive Engine Running and Management, has passed through twenty-six editions. Combustion in Locomotive Fireboxes, Firing Locomotives, Railroad Men’s Catechism, Twentieth Century Locomotives, and History of the Development of the Locomotive Engine, have all passed through extensive and numerous editions. Firing Locomotives had the distinction of being the first engineering handbook published in the Chinese language, and his first book, after a lapse of more than thirty years, is still a prime favourite among the younger railway men.

In 1908, Purdue University, Lafayette, Ind., conferred upon Mr. Sinclair the degree of Doctor of Engineering. About this time he became Special Technical Instructor for the Erie Railroad. In the classrooms of railroad apprentices and in railroad clubs and societies generally, he is a ready and fluent speaker, his platform addresses having the same direct and interesting features that distinguish his work as an engineering writer. He has travelled extensively in Europe, as well as in America, and is everywhere received as among the foremost authorities on all matters connected with the mechanical departments of railways. Dr. Angus Sinclair ‘s work as a writer is marked by a clearness of style, and a complete freedom from technical jargon.

Dr. Sinclair has been prominently identified with many mechanical, social, benevolent and other societies, among which may be mentioned the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Railway Guild, American Master Mechanics and Master Car Builders’ Associations, Railroad Club of New York and many other railroad clubs, the Masonic Fraternity and others. Dr. Sinclair was a prominent member of the Transportation Jury, which awarded the prizes at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, June, 1915, and at the request of President Moore he delivered the address on the Origin and Development of Transportation to thousands of people. In politics he is an independent Republican. Dr. Sinclair has always managed to keep in touch with the affairs of his native land and all that pertains to the well-being of his countrymen in America receives his warmest encouragement and support. He is a member of the St. Andrew’s Societies of New York and New Jersey, Burns Society of the City of New York, Order of Scottish Clans, New York Caledonian Club, and was first President of the Scottish Home Rule Association of New York City.


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