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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HARRISON, Joseph, engineer, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 20 September, 1810; died there, 27 March, 1874. He had received but a partial common school education, when his strong inclination for mechanical pursuits led his father to indenture him to learn steam engineering. He began to build locomotives in 1834, and in 1840 designed for the Reading railroad an eleven-ton engine. Two Russian engineers, Colonel Melnekoff and Colonel Kraft, who were in this country to investigate its railway system, saw this engine, took traces of it, and introduced it into general use in Russia, where its value led to an official inquiry for its builder. The result was that Mr. Harrison was invited to Russia, and there in 1843 he, with Andrew M. Eastwick, of Philadelphia, and Thomas Winans, of Baltimore, concluded a contract with the govern-meat to build the locomotives and rolling stock for the St. Petersburg and Moscow railway for 83,000,000. The Emperor Nicholas made the partners costly presents, and also gave Mr. Harrison the ribbon of the order of St. Ann, to which was attached a massive gold medal, at the time of the completion of the bridge across the Neva. After executing other extensive contracts with the Russian government, Mr. Harrison returned to Philadelphia in ]852, built a fine mansion, and collected in it many paintings and other works of art. Later he designed and patented the "Harrison Safety Boiler," and was awarded the gold and silver Rumford medals by the American academy of arts and sciences, he wrote "The Iron Worker and King Solomon," and published a folio containing this poem and some fugitive pieces, his autobiography, and many incidents of life in Russia (Philadelphia, 1869). He also wrote a paper on the part taken by Philadelphians in the invention of the locomotive, an account of the Neva bridge in Russia, and a paper on steam boilers. He was a member of the American philosophical society, and of other learned societies.
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