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Alfred Wolcott Gibbs, son of Gen. Alfred and Peggy Forshee Blair Gibbs (see pages 20, 21), was born at Fort Filmore, New Mexico, on October 27, 1856. After courses at Rutgers School and Rutgers College, he entered Stevens Institute of Technology in 1874; graduated in 1878.
- Special apprentice at Pennsylvania Railroad shops, Altoona, 1879-1881;
- Draughtsman, Richmond and Danville Railroad 1881—1886;
- Master Mechanic of the Atlanta and Charlotte Division, 1886-1888;
- Master Mechanic of Virginia Midland Division, 1888-1890; appointed Superintendent of Motive Power of the Central of Georgia Railroad, 1890; when the office was abolished, again Master Mechanic of Richmond and Danville Railroad, 1892; Assistant Mechanical Engineer, Pennsylvania Railroad, 1893;
- Superintendent of Motive Power of Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, 1902;
- General Superintendent of Motive Power, Pennsylvania Railroad, 1903-1911;
- Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Pennsylvania Railroad System until his death in 1922.
Contributions to Locomotive Classes
He was instrumental in the design of a number of important PRR locomotive classes, including the E6 4-4-2 “Atlantic” type, the K4s 4-6-2 “Pacific” type, and the L1s 2-8-2 “Mikado” type.
Societies, etc.: Member of Mechanical Division of the American Railroad Association; American Society of Mechanical Engineers; American Society for Testing Materials (President, 1915); American Engineering Standards Committee; American Railroad Engineering Association; American Society of Naval Engineers; President of the Eastern Railroad Association; member Board of Managers of the Philadelphia Institute and Free Library.
Clubs: Engineers’, Rittenhouse, Automobile, and Corinthian Yacht Club, of Philadelphia; and Engineers’ Club of New York.
He was a hereditary member of the Aztec Club of 1847, representing his father General Alfred Gibbs. (Read charter document passing membership from his father)
From the many memorials written of Alfred Wolcott Gibbs by his professional associates and by the organizations of which he was a member, the following excerpts will give some sense of the deep admiration and regard he inspired:
‘‘Mr. Gibbs was endowed with a mind of fine scientific quality, which by careful training soon proved him a mechanical engineer whose opinion was eagerly sought and confidently relied upon and gave him a high position among the mechanical engineers in the railroad companies of the country. He was always an interesting and attractive companion in any group of educated men. His general information added to his scientific attainments led to prominent standing in the technical and commercial engineering societies whose work was affiliated with that of the railroad companies.” “He did valuable technical work on many committees of design, and gave time to original research, especially in metallurgy.” “Throughout all his business transactions he assumed the stern responsibility that rested upon him with that charity and sympathetic understanding which makes a business life a joy instead of mere labor or obligation.” “His was a life to emulate and an inspiration to all his friends, particularly to his younger associates in the engineering profession. The world has lost a good man and a great engineer.”
“His presence was sunlight.” “He was the most lovable of men.” “I never knew a man with a more even temperament, nor have met many who were less biased or more fair, frank, or fearless when it came to a discussion.” “He was thoughtful, considerate, and charitable. In all my association with him, I never heard him make an unkind remark about anybody. I shall miss his cheerful greetings, his quiet humor, his genial companionship, and his sincere friend¬ ship.” “I admired his high sense of honor, delightful personality, and rare, intelligent judgment.”