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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BORDEN, Simeon, inventor, born in Freetown, now Fall River, Massachusetts, 29 January 1798; died in Fall River, 28 October 1856. He acquired a rudimentary education in the district school at Tiverton, Rhode Island, and pursued by himself the study of geometry and applied mathematics. Without serving any apprenticeship, he made himself a thorough workman in wood and metals. He also practiced surveying with success, constructing his own compass. In 1828 he took charge of a machine-shop in Fall River. He devised and constructed, in 1830, an apparatus for measuring the base line of the trigonometrically survey of Massachusetts, which was found to be more accurate and convenient than any instrument of the kind then in existence. The apparatus, fifty feet in length, was enclosed in a tube, and was accompanied by four compound microscopes, the tube and microscopes being mounted on trestles, and adjusted so as to move in any desired direction. Mr. Borden assisted in fixing the base line, and in the subsequent triangulation in 1834 the state authorities appointed him superintendent of the survey, which he completed in 1841. This work, the first geodetic survey accomplished in America, is described in the ninth volume of the "American Philosophical Transactions." Its accuracy was subsequently established by the United States coast survey. Mr. Borden was employed as surveyor in the case of Rhode Island v. Massachusetts, tried before the United States Supreme Court in 1844. After the case was decided he surveyed and marked the boundary-line between the two states. He engaged later in the construction of railroads, and in 1851 published a volume entitled "A System of Useful Formulae, adapted to the Practical Operations of Locating and Constructing Railroads." In 1851 he accomplished the engineering feat of stringing a telegraph wire, suspended on masts 220 feet high, across the Hudson River from the Palisades to Fort Washington, a distance of more than a mile.
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