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This Day In Founders History – 18 October

On this day in 1767 (or October 11 by some sources), Charles Mason, an astronomer, and Jeremiah Dixon, a surveyor, completed their four-year, 233-mile survey of the boundary between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland, and portions of what would later become Delaware and West Virginia. The Penn and Calvert families hired Mason and Dixon to settle the decades-long boundary dispute. Now known as the Mason-Dixon Line, the boundary was marked by stones each mile and crownstones every five miles, with an M on one side for Maryland and P on the other for Pennsylvania. Many of the stones are still visible today.

One notable birthday on this day in history in 1787, that of Robert Livingston Stevens. Stevens and his father built the Phoenix, the first steamship to successfully navigate the ocean, from New York City to the Delaware River. The Camden and Amboy (C&A) Railroad was the first railroad in New Jersey and only the third in the U.S. Stevens was the corporate architect, first president and chief engineer for the railroad. Stevens invented the first all-iron rolled rail construction for the C&A Railroad, with a flanged ‘T’ style rail, allowing the rails to support heavier loads, which became the industry standard. Stevens assisted C&A in developing prototypes for modern ties and rail connectors as well as pilot wheels, increasing safety. Stevens was also commissioned by the government to build the first ironclad warship but died before its completion.

 

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