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Cities Named for Engineers

Port Jervis, New York in located on the east bank of the Delaware River near its intersection with the Neversink River just north of I-84. It was named for John B. Jervis the Chief Engineer of the Delaware and Hudson Canal that transported anthracite coal from the coal fields of North Eastern Pennsylvania to the Hudson River at Roundout and then to New York City. Jervis got his start as an axe man on the construction of the Erie Canal and became one of Benjamin Wright’s protégés. Wright, who is known as the “Father of American Civil Engineering,” was named chief engineer of the D & H but left shortly after and Jervis, who had accompanied Wright to the canal, became Chief Engineer. The canal actually started as a gravity railroad starting in Carbondale, Pennsylvania and ran to Honesdale where it became a canal. Construction on the canal started in 1825 and it opened in the summer of 1828. The first locomotive tested on rails in the United States was the Stourbridge Lion and its engineer was Horatio Allen who later became one of the leading engineers of the period and the fifth president of ASCE in 1871. In the late 1840s, John A. Roebling was to build three suspension aqueducts on the canal, one of which, after reconstruction, still serves as a highway bridge. 

 John Bloomfield Jervis
John Bloomfield Jervis

Jervis later became Chief Engineer on the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad running between Albany and Schenectady, New York that opened in 1831. On it he designed the front bogie on a locomotive to enable it to travel along curves without derailing as well as distribute the locomotive weight over more wheels thus cutting down the load on the frail strap rails. He was later chief engineer on other railroads as well as the Chenango Canal and the enlargement of the Erie Canal. He also was the Chief Engineer on the Croton Aqueduct that carried water into New York City that opened in 1842. On it he built High Bridge a masonry aqueduct across the Harlem River He was made an Honorary Member of ASCE in 1868. He died in 1885 at his home, which has been converted into a public library, in Rome, New York.