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Joseph Tomlinson

(Engineer and Draftsman)


Born: June 22, 1816 in Ruskington, Lincolnshire, UK

He was one of fourteen children. His parents where Joseph and Ann (Shearwood) Tomlinson. His father was a land-owner.

Joseph Tomlinson Died: May 10, 1905 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.



He was born on June 22, 1816 in Ruskington, England He died on May 10, 1905 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa He landed in the United States in 1840, a man aboard the ship persuaded him to move to New Milford, Connecticut.


He befriended Reverend Noah Porter in New Milford, Porter was later the President of Yale University.


He married Ann Northrup in New Milford on December 10, 1843. They had three children, two of which survived into adulthood. Joseph and Ann relocated to Iowa where Joseph took up farming, and Ann died. After Ann’s death, he married Sarah Ann Wyles on September 10, 1853 in Brooklyn, New York. Joseph and Sarah had 5 children, the oldest of which married Robert Nicholas Slater. Slater Street in Ottawa is named for his family.


Joseph traveled extensively building bridges and lighthouses for the Canadian government for several years.


 Joseph Tomlinson was was involved with the construction of the Hannibal Bridge, the first permanent rail crossing of the Missouri River. He was also in charge of the construction of the Cisco Bridge in British Columbia.

Joseph Tomlinson was 47 when he was hired by Amasa Stone to be the draftsman of the Ashtabula Bridge. Tomlinson was an experienced bridge builder and brilliant mathematician. He even held a patent for a suspension-bridge. However, Stone proved difficult for Tomlinson to work with. In fact, Stone would have many heated arguments with Tomlinson over the plans he was hired to draft.


Tomlinson, a qualified and educated civil engineer, was frustrated with Stone over the design and plans for the Ashtabula Bridge. Many of the sound engineering ideas Tomlinson suggested to Stone turned into a point of discussion and strong disagreement. He had tried to work with Stone, but after enough of Stone's rants and belittlements, he decided to turn in his resignation just two-months before construction of the bridge was to begin. However, as Stone moved ahead with his plans, many of Tomlinson's suggestions would prove to be true.

Much of the above information was provided by Dawson Haack, a distant relative of Joseph Tomlinson.  


Below photo - Joseph Tomlinson (left) standing on the Hannibal Bridge with the other two architects.
(Photo provided by Dawson Haack)

Joseph Tomlinson Hannibal Bridge (Chanute and Morison).png

Below photo - Cisco Bridge built by Joseph Tomlinson
(Photo provided by Dawson Haack)

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