William Lafayette Darling

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William Lafayett Darling
Born March 24, 1856
Oxford, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Education Worcester Polytechnic Institute 1877
Occupation civil engineer
Employer Northern Pacific Railroad; Great Northern Railway; Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad; Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railway; U.S. Government
Known for civil engineering
Title chief engineer, consulting engineer, Doctor of Engineering
Political party
Board member of
Associate member, Naval Consulting Board; Advisory Commission of Railway Experts to Russia; Board of Economics and Engineering for the Owners of Railroad Securities; City Planning Board, St. Paul, Minnesota; City Zoning Board, St. Paul, Minnesota
Religion Protestant
Spouse(s) Alice Ernestine Bevans
Children Fayette Bevans, William Lowell, Edna Cyrena
Parent(s) William Edward and Cynthia Marana (Steers) Darling

William Lafayette Darling (1856-1938), was a consulting engineer in St. Paul, Minnesota. Educated in Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Bachelor's of Science, 1877), he lettered in baseball and football; became a Doctor of engineering in 1927.

Personal life[edit]

Darling married Alice Ernestine Bevans, April 15, 1901.


Entered engineering construction, Northern Pacific Railroad, 1879 to 1883; division engineer, St. Paul and Northern Pacific (now Northern Pacific), 1883 to 1884; engineer, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, 1884; engineer, location and construction, St. Andrews Bay and Chipley, 1884 to 1885; resident engineer in charge of terminals in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Chicago, Burlington and Northern (now Chicago, Burlington and Quincy), 1885 to 1887; engineer, location and construction, Duluth, Watertown and Pacific (now Great Northern Railway), 1887; located the line afterwards built by the Great Northern from Sioux Falls to Yankton, South Dakota, 1887 to 1888; engineer in charge of washout repairs from Minot, North Dakota, to Great Falls, Montana, Great Northern, 1888. The following positions with the Northern Pacific: in charge of construction of Howe truss bridge[s] in Montana, 1888 to 1889; in charge of location and construction of line from Little Falls to Staples, Minnesota, 1889; in charge of location and construction of the Coeur d'Alene Branch, 1889 to 1890; principal assistant engineer in charge of engineering and construction, 1891 to 1892; division engineer in charge of engineering from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Billings, Montana, 1892 to 1896; division engineer and assistant chief engineer, 1896 to 1901; chief engineer, 1901 to 1903. Chief engineer and vice-president, Gulf Construction Company, building a line from St. Louis to Kansas City, 1905; chief engineer, Pacific Railway (now Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad), 1905 to 1906; chief engineer, Northern Pacific system and allied lines and during same period was vice-president and construction engineer in charge of construction of the Portland and Seattle Railway (now Spokane, Portland and Seattle), also during this period was construction engineer of the Pittsburgh and Gilmore.

Since 1916 he has been consulting engineer, at St. Paul with the following activities: Associate member, Naval Consulting Board during the World War I; appointed a member of the Advisory Commission of Railway Experts to Russia by the Secretary of State, 1917; Member of Board of Economics and Engineering for the Owners of Railroad Securities in New York, 1921 to 1922. Public office: Member, City Planning Board, St. Paul; Member, City Zoning Board, St. Paul.

In 1926, the Trustees of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute established the policy of granting a limited number of honorary degrees, including Doctor of Engineering. In 1927, the degree was conferred upon William L. Darling.

Clubs and fraternities[edit]

Member American Railway Engineering Association (former director); American Society of Civil Engineers; Permanent Association of Navigation Congresses; General Contractors of America (honorary member); Minnesota Club, St. Paul; University Club, St. Paul; Thirty-second degree Mason; Shriner.

Further reading[edit]

  • No author. Who’s Who in Railroading – United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba – 1930 Edition. New York: Simmons-Boardman, 1930, p. 124.
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Seventy Years of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Available on the Web at www.wpi.edu/Academics/Library/Archives/SeventyYears/page342.html.
  • WPI Journal. "People of the Century: Building Iron Rails." Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Spring, 1988. Available on the Web at: www.wpi.edu/News/Journal/Spring98/rails.html. Ironically, four of the five WPI civil engineering graduates listed in this article are early veterans of the Northern Pacific!
  • Dorsey, Michael W. "Maintaining a Lifeline." WPI Transformations. Discusses NP veterans Darling and Benjamin O. Johnson's experiences as Americans working to maintain the Trans-Siberian Railroad during World War I. Available on the Web at: www.wpi.edu/News/Transformations/2005Winter/timecapsule.html.
  • Personal papers from Darling's time in Russia circa World War I are held by the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Official papers as chief engineer of the Northern Pacific Railway are held by the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Minnesota.