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Subject: Saga in Steel and Concrete - 339-349
Date: Sat, 17 May 2003 10:02:23 -0700


The following selection is taken from "Saga in Steel and Concrete:
Norwegian Engineers in America" by Kenneth Bjork published by the
Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) in 1947. The volume is
still available from NAHA at where you will
also find the first 33 volumes of Studies and Records online. This
chapter is published with the kind permission of NAHA. The book this
selection is drawn from is under copyright and permission has been
granted for educational purposes and it is not to be used in any way for
commercial purposes.

The field of engineering is so extensive and its branchings are so many
that only part of the story of the Norwegian engineers in the New World
has been told thus far. Something of the true scope of the engineer story
is revealed only when the contributions of a large number of other
Norwegian immigrants are considered and their careers studied against the
broad background of America's growth.
It is unnecessary to emphasize the importance of building materials and
the industries that provide and use them. Steel and concrete have been
and continue to be basic essentials in most structural lines. The
activities of those engineers who helped develop the steel industry are
particularly significant, and since they were also associated with bridge
and other construction work, their careers have a varied aspect.
A. B. Neumann, a graduate of Trondhjem's Technical College, came to
America in 1893 and became chief engineer of the United States Steel
Corporation's plant at Gary, Indiana. He built a city where there had
been only sand --- in the heart of the famous Indiana sand dunes. He also
built the plants of the American Rolling Mill Company at Middletown,
Ohio, and of the Interstate Iron and Steel Company at Chicago. He became
chief engineer of the Chattanooga Steel Company and a champion of the
industrial future of eastern Tennessee, today a center of steel
production. Though Neumann was extremely versatile, he specialized in
steel-rolling mills, blast furnaces, and coking ovens. Among his many
inventions, the Baker-Neumann blast furnace stock distributor is
particularly note worthy; it is used in the furnaces of the Bethlehem
Steel Company. {1}
Among the many others who contributed to the development of the steel
industry, mention should be made of two Trondhjem graduates. D. A. With
was associated for many years with the Illinois Steel Company as civil
engineer in charge of construction. O. L. Berby migrated in 1911 and
became chief engineer with the Clyde Iron Works of Duluth --- producers
of steel cranes, hoisting equipment, and the machinery used in lumber
camps for hauling logs and loading them on railroad cars. {2}
A Horten man, C. B. Christophersen, was designing engineer with the
Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation of South Chicago. He assisted in the
planning and development of various steel mills for the United States
Steel Corporation at South Chicago, Gary, and Birmingham; his chief work
has been that of designing and estimating blast furnaces with full
equipment such as ore-handling machinery and power stations. {3} Carl B.
Moe, Norwegian vice-consul at Detroit, was educated at Trondhjem; he
became chief engineer of the Iowa Steel and Iron Works at Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, and manager of the De Croupet Iron Works in Detroit; at present he
is part owner of the C. B. Moe Company, producers of metal building
products {4} Moe's partner, A. H. Nesheim from Bergen's Technical
College, designed and promoted the Federal electric-welded solid steel
window while he was chief engineer (and later vice-president) of the
Federal Steel Sash Company at Waukesha, Wisconsin. This window was used
in the Woolworth and Equitable buildings in New York, as well as in many
industrial plants. {5}
Closely related to steel, reinforced concrete has profited in a singular
manner from the skills of Norwegian engineers. Heidenreich's work ---
discussed in an earlier chapter --- was closely rivaled by that of Herman
Fouguer, who graduated from Trondhjem's Technical College in 1897. His
first experience was in the design and erection of all types of
structures --- chiefly steel --- and of steel freight cars. In 1900
Fougner became associated with Milliken Brothers, then a leading New York
steel construction firm, and he was put in charge of a contract with the
Russian government for the erection of harbor works at Port Arthur. He
completed a naval basin, large cranes, storehouses, and magazines just in
time for the Japanese to destroy most of his work during the
Russo-Japanese War. Then followed several years in South Africa and Asia
during which, among other things, he introduced structural steel
buildings in South Africa. Returning to America in 1905, he became head
of the New York office of the Trussed Concrete Steel Company (later the
Truscon Steel Company) of Youngstown, Ohio. In the next twelve years he
made a thorough study of reinforced concrete and also served as a private
Reinforced concrete was then still in its infancy. And few of the older
generation of engineers and architects had any knowledge of the design or
use of this material. Mr. Fougner saw the great possibilities of
reinforced concrete and studied its development intensively. As a result
he was recognized as one of the leading concrete engineers in the United
States, and developed a large and profitable business for the products
manufactured by the Corporation . . . During the years 1909 to 1911, Mr.
Fougner lectured on reinforced concrete at Pratt Institute. {6}
Fougner's firm designed many of the leading reinforced-concrete
structures of the period; for example, a viaduct at Richmond, Virginia,
built on a curve --- then the outstanding work of its kind; the
Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel at Atlantic City, with the largest concrete
dome then in existence; the Traymore Hotel, also in Atlantic City; the
engineering features of the buildings at West Point Military Academy; and
countless other structures, including bridges and reservoirs.
During the First World War, Fougner entered into partnership with his
younger brother Nicolay to build concrete ships. In 1917 Nicolay had
invented and constructed the first seagoing concrete ship, at Moss,
Norway. The Fougner Concrete Shipbuilding Company, with a contract from
the United States Shipping Board for several ships, constructed a yard at
its own expense and had one ship ready when the war suddenly ended and
all contracts were canceled. {7} Herman Fougner then returned to his
consulting business and had charge of the construction of the great plant
of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company in Brooklyn. He was active from 1922
to 1927 as a contractor; in the late twenties he formed a partnership
with Raoul C. Gautier, a French engineer and architect, and was chiefly
engaged in designing industrial buildings, harbor improvements,
breakwaters, and swimming pools. During the last years before his death
in 1932, he made a study of the engineering aspect of handling freight
motor trucks at terminals and warehouses; he was also granted patents on
improved methods of floor design and layout. {8}
Nicolay Fougner, also a Trondhjem graduate, made his American debut with
the Trussed Concrete Steel Company and served as inspector for the
Detroit River Tunnel from 1906 to 1908; but he returned shortly to Europe
as chief engineer for the London branch of the same company. Transferred
to the Orient, he was put in charge of all his firm's undertakings east
of the Suez. He planned the 156-foot dome of the public library in
Melbourne, Australia. After the outbreak of the first Russian revolution
in 1917, he returned to Europe by way of Manchuria and Siberia, settling
in Christiania.
Fougner had been studying the problem of ships for some years and had
actually built a concrete craft, the "Buccaneer," at Manila in 1915.
After his return to Norway he attacked the problem of replacing the heavy
tonnage losses of the Norwegian merchant marine in the First World War.
The solution, he felt, lay in concrete ships. In August, 1917, he
produced the first seagoing ship of this kind in the motor-powered
"Namsenfjord." Despite the prevailing notion in technical and shipping
circles that it was impossible to build ships of reinforced concrete that
would stand the pounding of motors and heavy seas, the "Namsenfjord"
proved satisfactory in most respects. While Fougner admitted that the
concrete hull was heavier than one of steel and that steel shells were
better able to withstand light blows and scratches resulting from rough
handling, he stated that the concrete ship had a greater cubic capacity
and greater space for deck cargo. Experience also taught him that his
ship was cheaper to build and maintain; it was less subject to engine
vibration; and, because of its heavy hull, it required less ballast than
the steel ship. Furthermore, its movement in rough seas was easier, it
was more quickly repaired, was fireproof, had better insulating
properties for such cargoes as ice and fruit, and was more easily kept
clean. {9}
After overcoming governmental objections to the use of concrete, and
building additional ships in Norway, Nicolay entered into the American
partnership with his brother Herman, who in the meantime had been
negotiating with the shipping board. In October, 1917, Nicolay had
conferences with a newly created concrete ship section of the board,
organized by R. J. Wig; the result was that the Fougners agreed to
prepare a shipyard before beginning actual construction. Of a total of
twelve concrete ships actually built by all firms for the shipping board,
one --- the "Polias" --- was constructed and launched late in 1918 by the
Fougner company. In addition, the Fougners built the first concrete oil
carriers ever ventured, for the Standard Oil Company of New York, in the
spring of 1918. {10} In 1923 Fougner went to Argentina as South American
director of the Truscon Steel Company. After traveling extensively in
South, Central, and North America, he settled permanently in New York
City, still employed by the same company. {11}
Outstanding among the younger men who have worked with reinforced
concrete is Inge Lyse. Before accepting a professorship in 1938 at the
Institute of Technology in Trondhjem, his alma mater, Lyse was employed
in research work for the Portland Cement Association, both in Chicago and
at Lehigh University. During the 1930's he was professor of engineering
materials at Lehigh and director of the Fritz Engineering Laboratory. His
publications in American and European journals describe many tests made
to determine the strength of concrete in various forms. His work has been
amazingly brilliant and his pen prolific. {12}
Closely related to the concrete story is the production of cement. The
pioneer Norwegian engineer in the American cement industry was Andrew
Lundteigen, who studied chemistry at Norway's national university in
Christiania and came to the United States in 1887. First employed in the
office of a Milwaukee analytical chemist, Lundteigen began his long
career in cement in 1889, when he was made chief chemist of a Portland
cement plant at Yankton, South Dakota. This project was one undertaken by
a group of Milwaukee capitalists and was of a frankly experimental
nature. Lundteigen had had no previous experience with cement; in fact,
little was known in this country about its manufacture. In 1893, while
Heidenreich was becoming interested in reinforced concrete, Lundteigen
journeyed to Europe and visited the cement plants of England, Germany,
and the Scandinavian countries, making the acquaintance of many engineers
in the field. This trip was of the greatest value to the eager young man,
who in 1900 accepted a position as chief chemist with the Peerless
Portland Company at Union City, Michigan, and two years later became
superintendent of the same plant. Moving to Kansas City in 1910, he was
first consulting engineer and later vice-president of the Ash Grove Lime
and Portland Cement Company. Of his work it can be briefly said that he
concentrated mainly on improved manufacture, and in 1931 he took out a
patent, with an associate, on an improvement in the Portland cement
Andrew K. Frolich, a graduate of the Ilmenau institute, was until
recently superintendent of the Louisville (Nebraska) plant of the Ash
Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company. He can pride himself on having
designed and supervised one of the most up-to-date cement plants in the
country. Following varied experiences in Norway and Russia, he came to
America, largely at the urging of Lundteigen, and has been employed by
the same company since his arrival in 1924. He was co-inventor of a
method of returning collected cement dust to the kiln, but his chief
pride is the fact that for many years his plant at Louisville has
received the annual prize awarded by the Portland Cement Association for
having no lost-time accidents. He is a brother of Per K. Frolich, the
distinguished Norwegian-American chemist, and is now chief engineer of
all plants of the Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company, with office
in Kansas City. {14}
Representative of others who have contributed in one way or another to
the cement industry is Olav S. Corneliusen, a graduate of the Mechanical
Trade School at Porsgrund and a specialist in the engineering design and
machinery of cement plants. During the first two decades of the present
century, Corneliusen carried out important work with the mills and
machinery of the Kent Mill Company, New York; the Whitehall Portland
Cement Company, Cementon, Pennsylvania; the Phoenix Portland Cement
Company, Nazareth, Pennsylvania; the Clinchfield Portland Cement Company,
Kingsport, Tennessee; the Kentucky Portland Cement and Coal Company,
Louisville; and the Atlas Portland Cement Company, Northampton,
Pennsylvania. After spending the years 1917 to 1922 in Cuba, he returned
to the States to become mechanical engineer for the Dexter Portland
Cement Company at Nazareth, Pennsylvania. He died in 1925, while employed
in the construction of a large cement plant in Brazil. {15}
A number of the many engineers who worked on the railroads of this
country had experience in surveying, but Lars Netland and A. M. Mosheim
are peculiarly identified with this branch of engineering. Netland, soon
after graduating from Trondhjem's Technical College, remodeled about 150
railway stations in Arkansas. In 1891 he was made office engineer of the
Crozier Land Association at Elkhorn, West Virginia. For seven years he
was associated with the development of coal land - a work involving
topographic mapping and the subdivision of land into leases, the
investigation of titles, considerable construction of power plants,
railroads, coke ovens, tramways, roads, and the laying out of townsites
and water-supply systems.
In 1898 Netland set out for the Klondike, where he indulged his love of
outdoor life and engaged in a private practice of mine and claim
surveying at Dawson. From 1900 to 1903 he made exploration surveys of
remote parts of the Yukon Territory as chief of a party employed by the
Canadian government. In the years that followed, he was employed in the
same work by the United States government during its survey of the
Alaska-Canada boundary. Netland's party surveyed and monumented from
latitude 54 to latitude 66, and a 5-mile strip along the entire boundary
was mapped. This work completed in 1910, Netland became resident engineer
and superintendent for the Canadian Colleries, Limited, at Cumberland,
British Columbia. There he was in charge of the development of 10,000
acres of coal land, which involved the construction of two complete towns
with water-supply, light, and sewer systems; the erection of a
hydroelectric project and a transmission line with substations at four
mines; the creation of a standard-gauge railroad, the sinking of mine
shafts, and the erection of coal tipples; and the installation of
lighting systems for seven towns. In 1915 Netland was put in charge of
the inventory and valuation of the Southern Pacific Company's coal mine
at Beaver Hill, Oregon; in 1917-18 he was chief engineer and
superintendent of the Chicaloon Coal Company in Alaska, engaged in
driving prospect tunnels and putting up power-plant buildings and
transmission lines. Later going to California, he made surveys and
engaged in various undertakings involving water supply and storm sewers
at Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco. {16}
Netland's rich experience was paralleled by that of A. M. Mosheim, who
was trained as an army officer as well as an engineer, and was well known
as a ski jumper in Norway before his departure for South America in 1890.
He was associated with railroad building over the Andes between Argentina
and Chile, and when civil war broke out in Chile in 1891 he took Chilean
troops over the mountains by rail. Later wounded in the fighting, he left
South America by way of Argentina and returned to Norway, taking
employment with the state railroads. Like Netland he was attracted to the
North; he arrived at Dawson in 1898 and spent several years in search of
gold. He was then employed by the Canadian government as surveyor of gold
mines and in 1904 by the United States government, joining Netland in
surveying the Alaska-Canada boundary. Each was head of a division and
each had an assistant and five other men in his group. Their task was to
draw a 650-mile line along the coastal mountains - a difficult assignment
carrying them through forests, glaciers, and other rough terrain. After
six years in the North, Mosheim was ordered to the Philippines, but,
disliking the climate there, he soon left. He was with the American army
in the First World War, and he later took up civil engineering on the
west coast. {17}
Closely allied to surveying is map making, and in this field A. J. Glerum
had a distinguished career. Graduating from Trondhjem's Technical College
in 1879, he came at once to America and found employment with Rand
McNally at Chicago. Three years later, Glerum went to the
Matthews-Northrup Works at Buffalo, New York, becoming superintendent of
the map department. Until 1929 he was busy reproducing maps, his best
work perhaps being the preparation of the Century Atlas for the Century
Company of New York. The atlas was begun in 1895 and completed three
years later; it was highly commended by geographic societies and
explorers. He also made maps for various railroad companies and for
school geographies, such as the one written by Tarr and McMurray. For
reproducing maps he used wax engraving and copper electroplating. {18}
It has already been made clear that the railroads --- especially the
so-called transcontinental lines --- attracted large numbers of foreign
engineers. Among the earliest Norwegians to engage in railroad work was a
Trondhjem graduate, Jesse Didrichsen Koren. Koren, after his arrival in
1877, tried his hand at several tasks, including the development of a
North Dakota homestead. In 1882 he became an engineer with the Soo Line,
in charge of construction near Sault Ste. Marie. Later transferring to
the Northern Pacific, he was shortly made responsible for all track,
bridge, and building designs - a job that later required the services of
three men. In 1907 Koren was promoted to district engineer with
headquarters at Spokane; his district was from Paradise, Montana, to
Ellensburg, Washington, and it included many branch lines in the wheat
and fruit areas of Idaho and Washington. For nineteen years he was in
full charge of all engineering work in this territory. Koren was
considered typical of the old-school engineer who migrated in the
seventies and eighties-polished, courteous, kindly, competent. {19}
Martinius Stixrud, a graduate of the Chalmers Institute at Gothenburg and
of the Aachen Polytechnicum, spent his first summer in America, in 1881,
with the Manitoba Railways. He switched to the bridge department of the
Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway at Minneapolis in the fall of
the same year. In 1883 he transferred to the Northern Pacific and was
sent to the Pacific coast by this railroad. His experiences included the
design of a switchback over Stampede Pass, a period with the Oregon
Pacific Railroad, and the running of lines across the Cascade Mountains
through Snoqualmie Pass for the Seattle, Lake Shore, and Eastern Railway.
He designed and constructed the bridges of the latter railroad over the
Spokane River. In 1890 he became city engineer of Seattle. {20}
The career of Hans Helland follows a similar pattern. Educated at the
Polytechnicum in Dresden, he emigrated in 1881 and set his course for
Texas, where railroad lines were desperately needed. Helland first served
as construction engineer for the Texas Central Railroad; in 1889 he
became vice-president and general manager of the Central Texas and
Northwestern and of the Fort Worth and New Orleans Railroad companies.
Øen these lines consolidated with the Houston and Texas Central Railroad
in 1902, he became maintenance-of-way engineer for the entire system.
Resigning in 1906, he located and constructed the Panhandle Short Line.
Two years later he transferred to the San Antonio and Aransas Pass
Railroad as maintenance-of-way engineer, remaining at this post until
1913, when he became city engineer of San Antonio. {21}

<1> H.. O. Sundby-Hansen, in Nordisk tidende, January 25, 1917; Alstad,
Trondhjemsteknikernes matrikel, 82.
<2> Wong, Norske utvandrere, 240.
<3> Femti-aars jubilæums-festskrift, Hortens tekniske skole, 226.
<4> Alstad, Tillegg, 68.
<5> Wong, Norske utvandrere, 198; Norwegian-American Technical Journal,
vol. 1, no. 2, p. 1 (May, 1928).
<6> American Society of Civil Engineers, Transactions, 96:1480-1482
<7> Building a Government 3500-Ton Concrete Ship," in Engineering
News-Record, 81:1058-1065 (December 12, 1918).
<8> Alstad, Trondhjemsteknikernes matrikel, 125; Norwegian-American
Technical Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, p. 10 (April, 1933); Minneapolis
tidende, March 31, 1932.
<9> N. C. Fougner, Seagoing and Other Concrete Ships, 1-6 (Oxford
Technical Publications-London, 1922).
<10> Fougner, Seagoing and Other Concrete Ships, 68-85.
<11> Alstad, Trondhjemsteknikernes matrikel, 219; Alstad, Tillegg, 60.
<12> Contributions by Lyse for the period of the 1930's will be found in
the Proceedings of the American Concrete Institute, the American Ceramic
Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the American
Society for Testing Materials; in Teknisk ukeblad, Zement, Concrete,
Beton and Eisen; in the Journals of the American Concrete Institute and
American Welding Society; and in Engineering News-Record and Civil
<13> See Norwegian-American Technical Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, p. 10, 16
(August, 1930); and Lundteigen's "Notes on Portland Cement Concrete," in
American Society of Civil Engineers, Proceedings, 23:63 f. (1897).
<14> Information obtained during an interview in June, 1940.
<15> American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Transactions, 47:1319
<16> Alstad, Trondhjemsteknikernes matrikel, 75; Alstad, Tillegg, 28;
American Society of Civil Engineers, Transactions, 100:1701 (1935).
<17> Normands-forbundets tidsskrift, 45 (February, 1927);
Normands-forbundet, 8:27-35, 82-94 (January and February, 1915).
<18> Alstad, Trondhjemsteknikernes matrikel, 37, information in Chicago
archives of Norwegian-American Technical Society.
<19> Alstad, Trondhjemsteknikernes matrikel, 341; Alstad, Tillegg, 103;
Norwegian-American Technical Journal, vol. 9, no. 1, p. 5 (June, 1936).
<20> American Society of Civil Engineers, Transactions, 51:463-465
<21> American Society of Civil Engineers, Transactions, 93:1824 (1929);
Norwegian-American Technical Journal, vol. 1, no. 2, p. 3 (May, 1928).

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