Jervis, John B. (John Bloomfield), 1795-1885

Alternative names
Birth 1795-12-14
Death 1885-01-12

Biographical notes:


From the description of Papers of John B. Jervis, 1827-1878. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71067890

Civil Engineer.

John Bloomfield Jervis was born in Huntington, New York, on December 14, 1795. He began his career in his father's lumber business at Rome, New York, and in 1817 he became an axeman on the local survey for the Erie Canal. Jervis became one of the most gifted engineers produced by the so-called "Erie Canal School." By 1823, he was the superintendent of a fifty-mile division, and two years later he accompanied his mentor, Benjamin Wright, to the Delaware & Hudson Canal, where he and John B. Mills did most of the actual survey work. Jervis succeeded Wright as chief engineer in 1827, and for the next three years directed the construction of the company's railroad, the first in America to use locomotives.

In May, 1830, Jervis became chief engineer of the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad, and soon after of the Saratoga & Schenectady Railroad for which he designed the first locomotive to be built with a swivelling four-wheel pilot truck. From 1833 to 1836 he was chief engineer of the Chenango Canal, a branch in the New York State canal system, and in the latter year he was briefly chief engineer for the eastern division of the Erie Canal enlargement project.

In September, 1836, he resigned to become chief engineer of the Croton Aqueduct, which was planned to bring water from the Croton River watershed to New York City. The design of the project included the Croton Dam, the High Bridge across the Harlem River and a storage reservoir in midtown Manhattan. Upon its completion in 1846, he became consulting engineer to the City of Boston on a similar project to bring water from the Cochituate River.

Jervis' subsequent career was devoted exclusively to the construction of trunk line railroads in the Northeast and Midwest: the Hudson River Railroad (1847-1850), the Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana (1850-1858) and the Chicago & Rock Island (1851-1854). From 1861 to 1864 he was general superintendent of the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Railway, and then its consulting engineer until retiring to Rome in 1866. He was trustee of the Merchant Iron Mill there until his death on January 12, 1885.

From the description of Papers, 1820-1884 [microform]. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 86123462


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Ark ID:


  • Canals
  • Railroads
  • Tunnels
  • Bridges
  • Stourbridge Lion (Steam locomotive)
  • Civil engineering--19th century
  • Water-supply--19th century
  • Civil engineers
  • Aqueducts


  • Engineers


  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • Boston (Mass.) (as recorded)
  • Delaware and Hudson Canal (N.Y. and Pa.) (as recorded)
  • Chambly Canal (Québec) (as recorded)
  • Erie Canal (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • Michigan (as recorded)
  • Chenango Canal (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • New York (State) (as recorded)
  • Indiana (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
  • Chenango Canal (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Indiana (as recorded)
  • Ohio (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • Croton Aqueduct (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Croton Aqueduct (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Chenango Canal (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Saint Lawrence Canal (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)