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Elmer Lawrence Corthel

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Elmer Lawrence Corthel (1840-1916)

1917 Obituary [1]

ELMER LAWRENCE CORTHELL, M.A., was born in South Abington, Mass., U.S.A., on the 30th September, 1840, and died on the 16th May, 1916, in Albany, N.Y.

He studied in the Brown University, Providence, R.I., from 1857 to 1861, when he left to take part in the Civil War, returning to the University in 1865, and remaining until 1867.

He was then engaged for a year in engineering work under Mr. S. B. Cushing, and in 1868 he became assistant to Mr. S. Dwight Eaton on the construction of the Hannibal and Naples Railroad in Illinois. He was Chief Assistant Engineer on the construction of the Hannibal Bridge, over the Mississippi, in 1870.

In 1871 he became Chief Engineer of the Suy Island Levee on the Upper Mississippi, reclaiming 100,000 acres of land, and while this work was in progress he also acted as Chief Engineer of a drawbridge of 444 feet, over the Mississippi at Louisiana, for the Chicago and Alton Railway. From 1874 to 1879 he was in charge, under the late Mr. James B. Eads, M.Inst.C.E., of the construction of the jetties at the South Pass of the Mississippi River, first as Chief Assistant, then as Resident Engineer. He was also associated with Mr. Eads in the Tehuantepec ship-railway project.

In 1881 he was appointed Chief Engineer of the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway, and in 1887 he entered into partnership with Mr. George S. Morison in New York. From this time on he was constantly engaged on works of considerable magnitude, one of which, the improvement of the harbour of Tampico in Mexico, he described in a Paper read at the Institution in 1896. He also advised on many schemes for improving the communications of Argentina.

A prolific writer and a keen participant in congresses, in Europe as well as in America, Mr. Corthell was indefatigable in the collection and dissemination of engineering knowledge ; and he also gave much consideration to questions of policy and organization in relation to the status and advancement of the engineering profession. He was elected President of the American Society of Civil Engineers early in 1916. In 1894 the Brown University (R.I.) conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. He was elected a Member of The Institution on the 2nd December, 1884.

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