Saturday, November 05, 2005

Famous engineers

From: "Wendell Huffman"

I suppose every era had its most famous engineer. My "favorite" is George B. Jefferis who ran the first passenger train onto the train ferry Solano (1879) and the first train into the Oakland Pier (1882). What makes him really notable (in my mind) is that he managed to do all this with two wives, one in Oakland and one in Sacramento. Which apparently caused some problem, which he solved by killing the one in Sacramento and burning down the Brighton Jct. depot (where she was the station agent) to cover the crime. He managed to get out of the murder rap and bigamy charge on a technicality (well, by the time of the trial he only had the one wife) and even kept his good standing with the railroad company. In 1911 he drove Taft's special and retired as road foreman of engines in 1927. There is even the possibility that he came out of retirement to pilot the first train across the Benicia-Martenez bridge in 1930 (did he run "Huntington"?). He died in 1933.