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British Industrial History

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George Fritz

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George Fritz ( -1873)


1873 Obituary [1]

IN the death of Mr. George Fritz, of the Cambria Iron Works, Pennsylvania, the iron and steel interest of America loses one of its most conspicuously successful engineers and managers. It is not too much to say that Mr. George Fritz, and his brother, Mr. John Fritz (general manager of the Bethlehem Iron Works), have created the American rail mill, and established the success of the manufacture, chiefly in their radically new system of arranging and working three-high rolls, but largely also in every detail of plant-in heating apparatus, in adaptation of power, in finishing machinery, and in general arrangement; they have put their mark on every feature, not only of the rail mill, but of American rolling mills at large. And despite conflicting ambitions and rival interests, this distinction is generally and freely accorded to the Fritz Brothers; and their counsel, in all branches of the iron manufacture, has been universally sought, as of the highest authority. A sketch of the life and labours of George Fritz cannot fail to be of interest, as illustrating the triumph of mind, not only over matter, but over adverse circumstances of many kinds.

This master in mechanical engineering-this manager whose product per unit of nominal capacity was the largest on record-this diplomatist who held in harmonious relations the largest organisation of the kind in America-this practical workman in every branch of the iron and steel manufacture, and of mechanical construction - this well-read student in engineering, in architecture, art, and general literature - this man of the world who earned wealth and position - was a farm labourer until eighteen years of age; was then apprenticed to a carpenter, and was only forty-four years old at the time of his death. His early educational advantages were of the most limited and ordinary kind. Although of massive mould, he was never in thoroughly sound health; and to complete the catalogue of his embarrassments, his right hand was seriously maimed early in his professional career.

It is hardly necessary to say, in view of these facts, that Mr. Fritz was gifted by nature, not only with talents of very high order and great versatility, but with an enormous capacity for work, with vast perseverance, and with a high degree of manliness in his relations with men. Although reserved, and often severe, he was a true friend, especially to the young men and apprentices in the works, in whose training and advancement he took an unusual interest....[much more]


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