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Plumbe, John ( July 1809– July 1857), railroad advocate and photographer, was born in Wales. Little is known about his early life. His family immigrated to the United States in 1821. After completing his education, he turned to railroading for employment. American railroads were in their infancy in 1831, with less than 100 miles in operation in the nation. In 1831–1832 Plumbe was an assistant to Moncure Robinson, a civil engineer who was surveying a projected rail line across the Alleghenies in central Pennsylvania. In 1832, upon Robinson’s recommendation, Plumbe was appointed superintendent for the southern portion of a railroad that was being built between Petersburg, Virginia, and the Roanoke River in North Carolina. Though happy in his position, he left the South in 1836 and moved to Dubuque, Iowa, which remained his principal residence....