Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FANNING, John Thomas, civil engineer, born in Norwich, Connecticut, 31 December 1837. He was educated in the public and normal schools of his native City, and then studied architecture until 1858. During the three following years he perfected himself in building construction by labor as a mechanic, meanwhile pursuing studies in theoretical engineering. In 1861 he enlisted as a private in the 3d Connecticut regiment, and rose gradually until he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. He began the general practice of engineering and architecture in 1862, opening an office in Norwich, where he remained until 1870, having charge during that time of all the engineering work of the City, including the laying out of its cemetery and the construction of its public waterworks, also making plans for numerous mills and waterpower in New England.
From 1870 till 1880 he was engaged principally as chief and consulting engineer in building water, works for cities. While superintending the construction of waterworks for Manchester, New Hampshire, he removed his office to that City, where he designed various public buildings. After 1880 he was called on by an association of citizens of New York and Brooklyn to make a report concerning an adequate public water supply for these cities, and of all the cities in the Hudson valley, from the upper Hudson River watershed. This project contemplated an aqueduct 225 miles in length, capable of conveying from the Adirondack region 1,000,000,000 gallons of water daily to New York and Brooklyn, at an estimated cost of $60,000,000.
In 1885 he prepared plans for the further development of the great waterpower of St. Anthony's falls on the Mississippi River, at the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in 1886 constructed new dams on the works. During the same year he was consulting engineer of the upper Red River valley drainage commission, and directed the detailed topographical survey and reported on the drainage of 3,000 square miles of prairie lands in the valley of the Red River of the North at an estimated cost of $3,000,000. Mr. Fanning received in 1883 from the New England agricultural society its highest prize for architectural and engineering designs, and he has secured patents for a waterwheel, a turbine motor valve, a steam boiler, a steam-pumping engine, for improvements in fireproof building construction, and numerous original designs for hydraulic apparatus. He is a fellow of the American association for the advancement of science, and a member of other scientific associations. Besides a great number of reports on technical matters, he has published a "Treatise on Hydraulic and Water Supply Engineering" (New York, 1877; rev. ed., 1886).
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