Sickels, Frederick Ellsworth

Sickels, Frederick Ellsworth

(1819–95) engineer, inventor; born near Camden, N.J. A physician's son, he had a fascination with railroads and went to work as a rodman for the Harlem Railroad at age 16. In 1841 he perfected his first invention, a cut-off for steam engines. His steam-powered steering apparatus for ships was not, however, a success; it worked, but no one would buy it. He migrated west after the Civil War, building railroads and bridges, and later became chief engineer for the waterworks in Kansas City, Mo.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.