Category Archives: Engineering

1903: Dr. Chauncey B. Forward

Here is the incredible story of a guy who could not settle down to one thing and simply focus.

From a 1903 issue of Successful American:


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Filed under Engineering, Medicine

1922: Businessman Sylvanus F. Bowser

Note: Here is a man anyone would have thought an unfortunate soul with no hope and no chance — yet he succeeded despite everything.

From a 1922 issue of The American Magazine:


A Story That Makes You Take a New Grip on Yourself

If Sylvanus Bowser, with less than four months of schooling in his whole life, and with sickness, poverty, and hardship to contend with, could build up a business which girdles the earth, what decent excuse can the rest of us give for failure?

by John Kidder Rhodes

The teacher of a little country Sunday-school in Indiana, in the early sixties, offered a Bible as a prize for the pupil who was able to commit to memory the largest number of verses from the Scriptures within a given time. One of the pupils was a thirteen-year-old boy, timid and awkward, who lived with his parents in the neighborhood.

He never had been to school. . . . He did not know how to read. . . . He knew only the letters of the alphabet. . . . But he determined to win that Bible!

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1920: Engineer Charles Lee Cook

Two notes:

1) Writer B.C. Forbes is he who co-founded Forbes magazine.

2) I became interested in Cook because Forbes apparently did an entire book about him with the same title as this article.

From a 1920 issue of The American Magazine:



A Genius Who Never Walked a Step

The extraordinary story of Charles Lee Cook — a Louisville invalid, who, against great odds, has achieved wonders

by B. C. Forbes

A cripple who has never been able to walk a step in his life, and who was taken from school when seven years of age, recently refused a forty-thousand-dollar-a-year job.

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1922: Mining Engineer Cuyler Adams

From a 1922 issue of The American Magazine:



How the Needle of a Compass Pointed the Way to Fortune

The story of Cuyler Adams, who discovered one of the greatest deposits of iron ore in the world. A true romance of business, of science, and of human nature

by Neil M. Clark

As the sidewheel steamer “Keeweenaw” nosed into harbor on one of her infrequent trips to the head of Lake Superior in the year 1870, a lad of eighteen eagerly watched the unfolding of hill and forest behind the little frontier town of Duluth. The lad had fed upon the romances of Fenimore Cooper; and he had been told that a scant hundred miles away, under the shadowing forest of tamarack and spruce, Indians trapped and hunted and fished, much as they had in the times when Cooper had written about them.

The lad’s name was Cuyler Adams. In his pocket was fifty dollars, the gift of his grandfather, and his stake for a fortune. And in the fifty years that have passed since that day, his life has been as full of romance as that of any of the characters created by Cooper.

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1922: Engineer George W. Goethals

From a 1922 issue of The American Magazine:


Don’t Fear to Attempt a Thing Just Because It Looks Big

Nothing is hard if you know what you are doing. A big job is often simply made up of many little jobs; if you know how to multiply one by ten, you can multiply it by one hundred

An interview with Major General George W. Goethals, Builder of the Panama Canal

Reported by Samuel Crowther

“I find,” said General Goethals, “that a great many people are afraid to try to do a big job, of any kind, simply because it is big. They let themselves be frightened by mere size; and this fear keeps them from accomplishing what they are perfectly able to do.

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1917: Engineer Olaf Hoff

We have two entries for Olaf Hoff, a pioneer in the creation of pre-fabricated sections that were sunk and connected to create underwater tunnels.

The first is from a 1917 issue of The American Magazine:


A Great Engineer Perfects A Good Plan


Time: A certain winter’s night, about twelve years ago.
Place: A bathroom in a cottage at Tarrytown, New York.

Kneeling on the floor before a tubful of water is a middle-aged man toying with a queer floating object. You may think he is trying to sail a boat and wonder that a man of his years should be so engaged. But you are mistaken; he is studying rather how to sink a boat.

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