John B. Jervis

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John Bloomfield Jervis
John B. Jervis.jpg
Born December 14, 1795[1]
Huntington, New York
Died January 12, 1885[1]
Rome, New York

John Bloomfield Jervis (December 14, 1795 – January 12, 1885) was an American civil engineer. America's leading consulting engineer of the antebellum era (1820–60), Jervis designed and supervised the construction of five of America's earliest railroads, was chief engineer of three major canal projects, designed the first locomotive to run in America, designed and built the 41-mile Croton Aqueduct – New York City's fresh water supply from 1842 to 1891 – and was a consulting engineer for the Boston water system.

Biography[edit]

Jervis was born in 1795 at Huntington, New York, on Long Island, and was raised in Rome, New York, which was then called Fort Stanwix.

In 1817 at the age of 22, Jervis was hired for work on the Erie Canal as an axeman. While working on the construction teams, he studied engineering, at a time when there were few engineering schools in the United States. By 1819 he became the lead engineer on the canal's 50 mile long center section.[2]

In 1827, Jervis became the chief engineer for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. In this position, he designed the Stourbridge Lion, which was built by Foster, Rastrick and Company of England.[3]

Jervis steam locomotive
The High Bridge over the Harlem River, part of the Croton Aqueduct, as seen in 1890.

In 1831, he became the chief engineer for the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad, a predecessor of the New York Central, and two years later he was appointed chief engineer of upstate New York's Chenango Canal project and helped in its design and construction. In 1836, Jervis was chosen as the chief engineer on the 41-mile long Croton Aqueduct. After his work on the Croton Aqueduct, Jervis served as a consulting engineer for the Boston water system from 1846 to 1848.[1]

In the 1850s and into the early 1860s he worked on railroads in the midwestern United States, serving as chief engineer for both the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad, Chicago and Rock Island Railroad (a predecessor of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad), also serving as President of the latter from 1851 to 1854,[4] and finally the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway.[3]

Jervis retired in 1864 to his homestead in Rome, New York, but he continued to work actively in the area. In 1869, he helped form the Merchants Iron Mill, known today as the Rome Iron Mill in upstate New York industry. He was also the founder of the Rome, New York public library, named for him.[3] Much of the remainder of Jervis's life was spent writing. He published The Question of Labor and Capital on economics in 1877.[3]

Work[edit]

Jervis steam locomotive[edit]

Jervis' first steam locomotive design was the Stourbridge Lion. Later, in 1832, while working as chief engineer for the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Railroad, he built the first steam locomotives with a leading bogie, a four-wheel leading truck that guides the locomotive into curves. This 4-2-0 locomotive, which had two powered driving wheels on a rear axle underneath the locomotive's firebox, became knowns as the Jervis type. The Mohawk & Hudson Rail Road began operating the 4-2-0 in 1832.

Croton Aqueduct[edit]

In 1836, Jervis was chosen as the chief engineer on the 41-mile Croton Aqueduct, which operated from 1842 to 1965, bringing fresh water to New York City.

Many of Jervis's original diagrams for this project are now preserved at both the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The High Bridge which still stands across the Harlem River in New York City, connecting Manhattan and the Bronx, was part of this project.[3]

Legacy[edit]

1401 John B. Jervis

Upon his death, Jervis bequeathed his homestead to the city of Rome to use as the location for a public library. His personal library now forms the John B. Jervis collection of the Jervis Public Library.[2] The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[5] In 1927, the Delaware and Hudson Railroad built an experimental steam locomotive that was designed to run at 400 psi (2.8 MPa or 28 kgf/cm²) steam pressure; this locomotive, road number 1401, was named John B. Jervis.[6]

The city of Port Jervis, New York is also named in his honor. The city was a port on the former Delaware and Hudson Canal, which he designed, and is located at the adjoining borders of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.[3]

Works[edit]

  • Railway Property (1859)
  • The Construction and Management of Railways (1861)
  • Labor and Capital (1877)

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c "A Veteran Engineer's Death; John B. Jervis, Who Helped to Construct the Erie Canal". New York Times. 1885-01-14. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  2. ^ a b "The First One Hundred Years". Jervis Public Library. Retrieved 2005-03-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "John Bloomfield Jervis Papers". Central New York Library Resources Council. Retrieved 2005-03-09. 
  4. ^ Beydler, John. "The Rock founders faced tragedy and travail before triumphing". The Railroad Comes to Town. Retrieved 2008-03-14. 
  5. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  6. ^ "The John B Jervis Nº 1401". Loco Locomotives. 

Further reading

  • Jervis, John B.; FitzSimmons, Neal, ed. (1971). The Reminiscences of John B. Jervis. Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, New York. ISBN 0-8156-0077-1. 
  • Larkin, F. Daniel (1990). John B. Jervis: An American Engineering Pioneer. Iowa State University Press. ISBN 0-8138-0355-1. 
  • Museum of the City of New York, The Croton Aqueduct. Retrieved March 9, 2005.[dead link]
  • White, John H, Jr. (Spring 1986), America's Most Noteworthy Railroaders, Railroad History, 154, p. 9-15.

External links[edit]


Preceded by
James W. Grant
President of Chicago and Rock Island Railroad
1851 – 1854
Succeeded by
Henry Farnam