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Eads, James Buchanan (23 May 1820–08 March 1887), civil engineer and entrepreneur, was born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, the son of Thomas Clark Eads, a businessman, and Ann Buchanan. Eads was named after his mother’s cousin, James Buchanan, a Pennsylvania congressman who later became the fifteenth president of the United States. Eads had little formal schooling. When his family moved to St. Louis in 1833, he went to work doing chores and running errands for a wealthy dry-goods merchant and spent his spare time reading in his employer’s private library. When Eads was nineteen, he joined his family in Iowa, where they had moved in 1837. There he took a job as a second clerk on the river steamer ...


Robert Fulton. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102509).


Fulton, Robert (14 November 1765–23 February 1815), artist, engineer, and entrepreneur, was born on a farm in Little Britain (later Fulton) Township, south of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Fulton, a Scotch-Irish tailor and tradesman, and Mary Smith. Fulton’s father had left the prosperous market town of Lancaster to establish his family on the land, but like so many others with the same goal, he failed. The farm and the dwelling were sold at sheriff’s sale in 1772, and he took his family back to Lancaster. He died two years later....


Washburn, Frank Sherman (08 December 1860–09 October 1922), engineer and industrial entrepreneur, was born in Centralia, Illinois, the son of Elmer Washburn, a politician and banker, and Elizabeth Knight. Washburn received a degree in civil engineering from Cornell University in 1883, after which he went to work for the Chicago and North Western Railroad. During 1884 he did graduate study at Cornell in economics, history, and political science and returned to the Chicago and North Western in 1885 as a bridge engineer and later a division engineer....