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William Roberts Eckart

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William Roberts Eckart (1841-1914)

of Salkeld and Eckart, 632 Market Street, P. 0. Box 1587, San Francisco, California, United States.

1910 January. Presented a paper to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on The Application of the Pitot Tube to the Testing of Impulse Water-Wheels. [1]


1915 Obituary [2]

WILLIAM ROBERTS ECKART was born at Chillicothe, Ohio, on 17th June 1841.

He was educated at schools in Chillicothe and Cleveland, and took a special course in mathematics to fit him for the profession of civil engineering. On his father removing, in the middle of the "Fifties," to become manager of the Putnam Flour Mills, at Zanesville, Ohio, he began an apprenticeship in the works of Griffith, Ebert and Wedge, a firm which held a high reputation in those days for general mill and steamboat work. During this period he secured the friendship of the junior partner and manager — Mr. Wedge — who was a master mechanic of great ability, and had been an apprentice and foreman to Sir Joseph Whitworth when the latter was making known to the world his most accurate methods of machine-tool construction.

During his apprenticeship he made numerous trips on the trials of new riverboat engines, which led to his desire to enter the United States Navy as engineer. On the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 be was appointed third assistant engineer in the fleet on the Pacific Coast, and remained in the Navy until 1864, when he resigned on account of ill-health, taking up his residence in San Francisco.

He then became chief draughtsman for H. J. Booth and Co., mining and marine engineers, and in 1865 he designed and built the first Californian locomotive.

In 1869 be became draughtsman to the steam-engineering department at Mare Island Navy. Yard, subsequently being promoted to the position of Superintendent of Steam Machinery.

Two years later he left the Navy Yard to enter into partnership at the Marysville Foundry, which had a large business in hydraulic, milling, and mining machinery.

In 1878 he moved to Virginia City, Nevada, and became consulting engineer to the "Bonanza Firm," which controlled nearly all the North End Mines; he was also appointed U.S. Deputy Mineral Surveyor for the State of Nevada, and a member of the U.S. Geological Survey. Much of the hydraulic and mining work be undertook was of a pioneer class, as no similar conditions were known.

In 1880 deep mining began to decline, and Mr. Eckart removed to San Francisco, where he acted as consulting and constructing engineer, and during the next ten years some of the largest mining plants were designed and constructed under his supervision.

When the U.S. Government began building warships for the new navy, and the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, secured contracts in 1890 for a large number, Mr. Eckart was appointed consulting engineer, and assisted in conducting the preliminary and government trial trips.

In 1899 he was appointed consulting engineer to the Standard Electric Co., and afterwards also had charge of the construction department.

On the acquisition of the property by the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., he was retained as consulting engineer in connexion with the hydro-electric branch of their work.

At the end of 1913 he retired from active business, but continued in the employ of the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. up to his death, which took place at Palo Alto, California, on 8th December 1914, at the age of seventy-three.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1878. He was also a Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and other American Societies.




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