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John Frank Stevens: American Trailblazer
Builder of railroads throughout the United States, Canada, and Russia, designer and constructor of the Panama Canal, discoverer of mountain passes, and advisor to railway officials--all of these accomplishments give evidence that John Frank Stevens, for his time, was one of the greatest civil engineers in the world.Western railroads dominated his career....
Builder of railroads throughout the United States, Canada, and Russia, designer and constructor of the Panama Canal, discoverer of mountain passes, and advisor to railway officials--all of these accomplishments give evidence that John Frank Stevens, for his time, was one of the greatest civil engineers in the world.Western railroads dominated his career. His early career was in Minnesota and Texas. In 1879 he was hired as an assistant engineer for the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, locating and constructing a railway through the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico. He established an enviable reputation for his planning of the extremely difficult route through steep canyons of the Denver & Rio Grande narrow-gauge railroad.The Canadian Pacific provided Stevens with an enormous and vitally important challenge. In 1882 he was hired as a contractorÕs engineer, and rose to construction engineer while helping explore and construct the transcontinental route from Winnepeg through the Rockies and Selkirks to the Pacific Coast.James J. Hill's Great Northern Railroad hired Stevens in 1889 to explore a new crossing of the Rocky Mountains. Stevens explorations led to his discovery of Marias Pass in Montana, which would be used by the Great Northern Railroad. It is the lowest Continental Divide railway pass in the United States north of New Mexico.Stevens explored Washington State's Cascade Mountains in the spring of 1890 for the Great Northern. In the course of his explorations he discovered Stevens Pass over the Cascade Mountains, over which the Great Northern would be built en route to Seattle. In 1895, he became chief engineer of the Great Northern.The Panama Canal was only months into planning when, in 1905, he was appointed chief engineer of the project by President Theodore Roosevelt. For two years he would oversee the planning, transportation, and construction issues of building the canal until the Army Corps of Engineers assumed control.Stevens fought a railroad war for James J. Hill against the forces of Edward Harriman of the Norther Pacific Railroad as he guided construction of the Oregon Trunk Line south from the Columbia River through the Deschutes River Canyon in central Oregon.Russian railroads were in chaos during World War I, and Stevens was selected by President Wilson to aid in their repair and operation. Stevens faced logistical and political challenges in this work, both with the tumultuous revolutionary events in Russia and with the U.S. government committees overseeing his work.The book has notes, a bibliography, and an index. Eighteen illustrations and ten maps. Printed on acid-free paper and bound in light blue linen cloth with foil stamped spine and front cover. Issued in an edition of 750 copies.
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