Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DICKSON, Thomas, capitalist, born in Lander. Scotland, 26 March 1822; died in Morristown, New Jersey, 31 July 1884. He was the son of a Scottish machinist, and immigrated with his parents to Canada in 1835. Afterward they settled in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, where young Dickson received an indifferent education, and at the age of thirteen bad charge of the horses and mules of the canal company. In 1838 he entered the employ of Charles T. Pierson in Carbondale. This business passed through the hands of several persons, including Joseph Benjamin, whose partner he became in 1845. In 1852 he turned his attention to iron manufacture, and purchased an interest in a foundry and machine shop. Four years later he established the Dickson Manufacturing Company for the building of steam engines and the construction of mining machinery. The corporation was very successful, and its capital increased in twenty years from $30,000 to $1,350,000, and its business grew until it became one of the most important locomotive works in the United States. in 1860 he retired from this organization and became superintendent of the coal department of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. Four years later he was made general superintendent of the company, then vice president, and president in 1869, which office he held continuously until his death. During his connection with the company its annual output of coal increased from 500,000 to over 4,000,000 tons. Its mining operations were gradually extended over an area of forty-four miles, and it acquired control of an extensive railroad system, in 1873 Mr. Dickson organized a company for the purchase of a large tract of iron land on the shores of Lake Champlain. Furnaces were erected, and the best quality of pig iron and Bessemer meted was produced. Besides controlling the affairs of these corporations, he was a director in twenty other companies. His home was in Scranton, where he gathered a large collection of books and fine paintings, and was known as a liberal donor to various charities.
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