Scots Descendant in America
Part II - Contributions by Noted
Scots in American Engineering by John
IN treating of American engineers of
Scottish birth and descent, it
is a difficult matter to mention specific names without omitting men of
probably as much if not more prominence than those mentioned, on account
of the large number of Scots who have acquired prominence in the
engineering profession, and the exceedingly high average quality of their
attainments. I have, therefore, mentioned only
those whom I consider typical, from personal
acquaintance or knowledge.
I presume that American engineers
are willing to let Andrew Carnegie head the list as, while he was not a
technical engineer, his extraordinary success has depended upon the
development of engineering processes with which he has been directly in
touch, and his interest in the engineering profession, which has so ably
assisted in bringing about that success, has led to his taking the lead as
a patron of the engineering profession,
exemplified by his donation to the buildings used by the associated
engineering societies of the United States and the Engineers Club of New
I presume that engineers are willing
also to acknowledge Alexander Graham Bell, an Edinburgh Scot, as possibly
a leader of engineering development, the inventor of the telephone and an
investigator of the highest order.
Among civil engineers who have
acquired prominence, I might mention Alexander C. Shand, a graduate of
Anderson University, Glasgow, who has spent his professional life in the
service, and in developing the physical improvements of the Pennsylvania
Railroad, and who at the present time is Chief Engineer of the
David Sloan, Consulting Engineer for
MacArthur Bros. Co., has had a successful engineering experience; his
earlier work was connected with the L. S. & M. S. Ry., then with the C. M.
& St. P. Ry. and for many years
he was the Principal Assistant
Engineer, and later Chief Engineer of the I. C. R. R.
Charles Pettigrew, a native of the
village of New Lanark, near the falls of the Clyde, the moving spirit in
the development of modern steel rail rolling processes, started as a
machinist in the plant of the Joliet Steel Company in 1870, and twenty-six
years later resigned as Manager.
William Gibson, as the culmination
of his railroad engineering work, finally turned his attention to
transportation matters and made an enviable record on the Alabama Great
Southern R. R., the Q.
& C., the C. H. & D., the C. C. C. & St.
L. and Hocking Valley, and as General Superintendent of Transportation of
the B. & O. R. R.
In Canada, Donald Smith, Lord
Strathcona and Mount Royal, engineer, promoter, capitalist and Canadian
Commissioner, constructed the Canadian Pacific Railroad from Winnipeg,
Morley Donaldson occupies a high
official position on the Grand Trunk Railway, having served as General
Superintendent of the Canada Atlantic Ry., graduating into the operating
class as a result of his successful engineering experience.
Malcolm Hugh MacLeod, Chief Engineer
and General Manager of the Canadian Northern Ry., achieved this position
as the result of a successful career in railway engineering on various
I might also mention Duncan
MacPherson, assistant to the Chairman of the Board of the National
As an example of the class whose
field has been entirely civil engineering and who have made a specialty of
bridge work, a leader in this branch of the profession, is Charles
Macdonald. Born in Canada in 1837, of Scottish descent, he is a graduate
of Queens University, Canada, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of
Troy, N. Y. He has been Engineer of Construction, Grand Trunk Ry. in
Michigan, and P. & R. Ry., Engineer of the Poughkeepsie Bridge; Merchants
Bridge, St. Louis; Leavenworth (Kansas) Bridge; and the Great Hawksburg
I presume that engineers will be
glad to yield to John Hays Hammond the position of peer of the mining
branch of engineering. He was born in San Francisco, in 1855, of Scottish
descent, and was educated at Yale and also at Freiberg, Saxony. At one
time he was engaged in the United States Geological Survey service; later
with the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, and the Central and Southern
Pacific Railways, and Consulting Engineer for Barnato Brothers. For a
number of years he was associated with Cecil Rhodes, of whom he was a
strong supporter, and was at one time in jeopardy of his life as one of
the leaders of the Reform Movement in South Africa. He has been consulting
mining engineer in almost every part of the world, and was Special
Ambassador, appointed by President Taft, at the Coronation of George V. As
a lecturer and writer on scientific and economic subjects, he has rendered
most valuable contributions to the profession and to the world.
Among other mining engineers of
Scottish descent I might mention the late Frank McMillan Stanton and John
Robert Stanton, brothers, who acquired prominence and reputation in the
development of low-grade copper areas and particularly in the Lake
Superior copper region.
Other engineers of Scottish descent
who have acquired reputation in the mining field are: Philip Argall,
Consulting Mining Engineer of Denver, Colo., a member of various
scientific societies and the author of books on metallurgy, mining, etc.;
William Nivan, mineralogist, who has a record of having discovered three
new minerals and two prehistoric cities. He is a member of scientific
societies and contributor to valuable scientific publications; James
Douglas, metallurgist and mining engineer, developer of the Phelps-Dodge
properties in Arizona and Mexico, inventor of processes for the
wet-extraction of copper and the first to extract copper electrolytically
on a commercial basis.
Among the architects, I might
mention John M. Donaldson, of Detroit, Mich., designer of many important
buildings and a member of numerous scientific societies.
In the electrical field is Wm. Chas.
Lawson Eglin, Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Electric Co., who has
designed many important electrical installations and power houses
throughout the eastern portion of the United States.
In the field of research,
authorship, and instruction are quite a number of Scots by birth, or
descent, who have rendered valuable service in the development of the
Richard C. Maclaurin, a native of
Lindean, Scotland, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has
held many professorships, has been honored by various degrees, and is the
author of a number of valuable books.
Alexander C. Humphreys, a native of
Edinburgh, President of Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey, is a
pioneer in the development of the modern gas industry and one of thc
leading illuminating engineers.
Herbert Michael Wilson, Engineer
United States Bureau of Mines, is a member of numerous societies and
author of books and reports on coal, fires, and mines.
T. Brailsford Robertson, Professor
of Chemistry, University of California, has made a specialty of
fertilization and is the author of valuable hooks.
Alexander Wilmar Duff, Professor of
Physics in Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is a holder of numerous
degrees, and the author of books on mechanics, measurements, etc.
George Robert McDermott has made a
specialty of naval architecture, is a professor in Cornell University,
previous to which he held responsible positions in the engineering world,
a member of scientific bodies, and the author of valuable books on
Angus Sinclair, a native of
Forfarshire, is an authority on fuel economy in locomotive service, author
of handbooks published in many languages, and publisher of Locomotive
Engineering, New York.
Edward Provan Carthcart, Professor
at Carnegie Institute, has made organic chemistry his specialty.
William Francis Gray Swann,
Professor at Carnegie Institute, whose specialty has been magnetism, is
the author of valuable books thereon.
Anthony McGill, Professor of
Chemistry, Toronto University, has been the recipient of various degrees
and is a member of numerous societies.
Among the hydraulic engineers is
William Mulholland, consulting hydraulic engineer, who constructed the Los
Angeles Aqueduct, has been chief engineer of various water works, and is
an engineer who has acquired prominence on the Pacific Coast.
I desire also to especially mention
John Thomson, who worthily prides himself on being a Scot, who has
rendered great service not only to America but to the civilized world
through numerous mechanical inventions and developments, among others the
first practical commercial water meter; he has assisted in carrying
improvements of the printing press to the present high standards, and has
rendered valuable service as an expert in the adjustment of admiralty
I could burden this article with a
continuation of many names of similar character, but the number is so
numerous it is impossible to do so in the space assigned to me. I could
also amplify on the individual attainments of these gentlemen, but
additional data in regard thereto will doubtless be found in the text of
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