Gerstner, František Antonin

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Gerstner, František Antonin

 

Born May 11, 1793, in Prague; died Apr. 12, 1840, in Philadelphia. Czech engineer and entrepreneur. Son of F. J. Gerstner, who was a scholar in the field of mechanics.

In the 1820’s, Gerstner participated in the construction of the first horse-drawn railway in Central Europe (České Budějovice to Linz); the idea to construct this railroad had been advanced by Gerstner’s father. Visiting Russia in 1834 at the invitation of the Mining Administration, he tried to monopolize the construction of railroads in Russia; his proposal to rely on foreign capital aroused sharp protest from the advanced elements of Russian society. Gerstner succeeded in organizing a company for construction of a sub-urban road from St. Petersburg to Pavlovsk, a distance of approximately 27 km, which was opened in 1837 (to Tsarskoe Selo). Gerstner’s attempts to obtain the privilege of constructing other lines ended in failure.