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Locomotive to Aeromotive

Octave Chanute and the Transportation Revolution

Simine Short

Publication Year: 2011

French-born and self-trained civil engineer Octave Chanute designed America's two largest stockyards, created innovative and influential structures such as the Kansas City Bridge over the previously "unbridgeable" Missouri River, and was a passionate aviation pioneer whose collaborative approach to aeronautical engineering problems helped the Wright brothers take flight. Drawing on a rich trove of archival material and exclusive family sources, Locomotive to Aeromotive is the first detailed examination of Chanute's life and his immeasurable contributions to the fields of engineering and transportation, from the ground transportation revolution of the mid-nineteenth century to the early days of aviation._x000B__x000B_Aviation researcher and historian Simine Short brings to light in colorful detail many previously overlooked facets of Chanute's life, in both his professional accomplishments and his personal relationships. Through the reflections of other engineers, scientists and pioneers in various fields who knew him, Short characterizes Chanute as a man who believed in fostering and supporting people who were willing to learn. This well-researched biography cements Chanute's place as a preeminent engineer, pioneer, and mentor in the history of transportation in the United States and the development of the airplane.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword: Octave Chanute and “The Course of Human Progress”

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pp. ix-xii

Octave Chanute died in his home at 1138 Dearborn Avenue on the morning of Wednesday, November 23, 1910. The family immediately wired the news to Wilbur Wright, who boarded a train in Dayton, Ohio, in order to reach Chicago in time for the funeral, scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. on Friday, November 25. ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

Gazing up the steps of the United States Capitol, thousands of visitors to Washington, D.C., every day are struck by the grandeur of this symbol of the American people. Nowhere is the pageant of America’s early history so well showcased as inside the Capitol’s great ceremonial rotunda. ...

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pp. xv-xviii

Because Octave Chanute had so many intertwining and diverse interests, I knew that I would need help compiling this biography. My husband Jim provided not only help but also constant support throughout this project. Especially in the last three years, Jim’s patience in the various stages of writing, editing, trimming contents, ...

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1. The Formative Years

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pp. 1-10

Mississippi Delta. December 1838—After more than two months of monotony at sea, the Havre Paquet approached the wide Mississippi River delta. At the river entrance, Captain Robert H. McKown took on a local pilot to guide the sailing vessel, towed by a steamboat tug, over the final 120 miles to New Orleans. ...

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2. The University of Experience

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pp. 11-43

Apart from the east coast, North America was thinly populated in the early nineteenth century, with few roads and little communication existing between the populace in the East and settlers living west of the Allegheny Mountains. To open up the inaccessible, or what some easterners called “worthless,” wilderness required an effective transportation system. ...

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3. Opening the West

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pp. 44-76

The english philosopher Lord Francis Bacon wrote, “There be three things which make a nation great and prosperous; a fertile soil, busy workshops and easy conveyance of men and things from one place to another.”1 After successfully completing several hundred miles of railroads in Illinois, Octave Chanute began to realize his role as one to provide conveyance of men and things. ...

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4. At the Top

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pp. 77-108

In the post–civil war years, land grant railways were frequently not as profitable as their promoters had hoped. “We have built a good many more miles of railroad than the country will support for some years and many weak concerns must go to the well. ...

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5. Self Realization

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pp. 109-137

As an impatient teenager, the eighteen-year-old Octave had written to his father: “Although I hope to became wealthy in a certain—or rather an uncertain—number of years, I do not think that making money should be the only goal a person should have. Money is only precious because of the pleasures it can get for us. ...

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6. A New Industry

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pp. 138-181

Growing up, Chanute’s father Joseph stressed that energy and perseverance were necessary to achieve success. After becoming part of the workforce and watching his coworkers, the budding young engineer wondered why some of his acquaintances had worked hard throughout their lives without becoming wealthy. ...

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7. From the Locomotive to the Aeromotive

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pp. 182-238

Early in his working life, Chanute had become interested in the unconventional topic of manned flight, but in the interest of his career and social standing, he did not discuss it publicly. Now approaching what he considered the end of his professional career, this seemed an opportune time to investigate mechanical flight,2 but only as a “side issue.” ...

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8. Encouraging Progress in Flying Machines

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pp. 239-286

By the early days of the twentieth century, the ancient taboo of flight had slowly emerged as a thoroughly modern inquiry of science. Although doubters still existed and the press still glorified experiments gone awry, most engineers fully anticipated the arrival of a powered flying machine. .,..


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pp. 287-324


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pp. 325-328


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pp. 329-341

About the Author, Publication Information, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252093326
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036316

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2011