Osborne, Richard B. (Richard Boyse), 1815-1899
Richard Boyse Osborne, a prominent civil engineer and "father of Atlantic City," was born in London on November 3, 1815, and died in Glenside, Pa., on November 28, 1899.
Osborne was educated at Bannow and Waterford, Ireland, and at Bath, England. In 1834 he sailed to New York and travelled to Upper Canada via the Erie Canal and Detroit in the company of two relatives, Townsend and George Gahan. Late in 1835 Osborne was in the Chicago area where he helped to lay out several new towns. He then went to St. Louis, travelling 1200 miles in a small open boat on the Des Plaines, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers accompanied by the Gahans. Their intention to proceed to New Orleans and embark for Hawaii was thwarted by the presence of yellow fever in New Orleans. They came east to Baltimore, where the Gahans parted from Osborne and sailed for Rio de Janeiro.
Osborne then proceeded to Philadelphia. A former schoolmate from England, Gustavus A. Nicolls, an official with the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company, secured him a post as draftsman under Chief Engineer Moncure Robinson in 1838. His first work was the preparation of a topographical map, which was used by Robinson in securing funds in England for the extension of the railroad from Reading to Mt. Carbon. On November 1, 1838, Osborne was appointed engineer in charge of the first, or Reading Division, and in April 1839 of the Port Clinton Division. In 1841-42 he supervised the construction of the Pottsville Division, and in 1842 the construction of the Port Richmond Branch in Philadelphia. Osborne became chief engineer of the company in August 1842, following the resignation of Wirt Robinson, a nephew of Moncure Robinson. Under his supervision the entire line was double-tracked in 1844-45. As part of this construction, Osborne designed and built the first all-iron Howe truss near Manayunk.
Osborne returned to Great Britain in 1845. He soon became chief engineer of the Waterford & Limerick Railway in Ireland and served in that position until 1850. In this capacity he introduced many features of American engineering practice, such as the Howe truss and 8-wheeled, bogie-truck railroad cars. In 1850 Osborne spent six months on the Isthmus of Panama to salvage a ship and cargo belonging to his father-in-law, Bartholomew Graves. He then returned to Pennsylvania and in 1851-52 made a survey for the Catawissa Railroad, and in 1852 he began construction of the Dauphin & Susquehanna Coal Company's railroad, both later absorbed by the Reading.
In 1852 Osborne also became chief engineer of the Camden & Atlantic Railroad Company. In addition to supervising the construction of the railroad, he also laid out and named the resort of Atlantic City, which became the road's eastern terminus.
Subsequently, Osborne was connected with the Lebanon Valley Railroad; the East Mahanoy; Danville & Northumberland; Jersey Shore, Pine Creek & State Line; Elmira & Williamsport; New York & Oswego Midland; and Western Maryland roads. In 1888 he was consulting engineer for Moncure Robinson on his North and South Carolina lines.
From the description of Journals, 1829-1857 [microform]. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 86123670
|Osborne, John C. Commentary on Richard Boyse Osborne, 1962 [microform].
|Hagley Museum & Library
|Osborne, Richard B. (Richard Boyse), 1815-1899. Journals, 1829-1857 [microform].
|Hagley Museum & Library
|Atlantic City (N.J)
|New York (State)
|Frontier and pioneer life
|Howe truss bridges
|Railroad construction workers
|Real estate development