Niagara County

1897 Biography - Edward G. Acheson

Acheson, Edward G., was born at Washington, Pa., March 9, 1856, a son of William Acheson, an iron worker and manufacturer of that place, now deceased. Mr. Acheson was educated at Bellefonte Academy, at Bellefonte, Pa., and at the age of seventeen began studying civil engineering in the employ of the Bradford & Olean Narrow Gauge Railroad Co.; in 1876 he became ticket agent for that company at Parker's Landing, Pa., in the Allegheny Valley. Later he entered the service of the Standard Oil Co. as measurer of capacity of the oil tank cars and remained with that company until 1879. He was continually experimenting in electricity and chemistry, and the year 1880 found him in the laboratory of the electrical king, Thomas A. Edison. In 1881-82 and 1883, he journeyed through Europe, introducing for Mr. Edison the incandescent electric light, establishing the first electric light station in Europe at Milan, Italy, and upon returning to America he devoted himself for two years to experimental work. In 1886 he became chief electrician for the Standard Underground Cable Co. of Pittsburg, with which company he remained until 1890, when he organized .the Monongahela Electric Light Company and was chosen its president. During his years of experimenting in chemistry and electricity, Mr. Acheson had discovered a method of manufacturing a crystalline compound of carbon and silicon nearly equal to the diamond in hardness and to which he gave the name of carborundum. The manufacture of this substance was first undertaken by the Monongahela Electric Light Co., under the personal supervision of Mr. Acheson. It proved a success and he at once took out letters patent, and since that time two large plants have been erected, one at Monongahela, Pa., and the other at Niagara Falls, N. Y., where carborundum is manufactured in large quantities. In the summer of 1897 Mr. Acheson will begin the building of a large plant for the manufacture of carborundum for foreign trade on the Rhine River in Germany. Mr. Acheson, the inventor of carborundum and the president of the Carborundum Company, has had more success than Jules Verne's hero, for though he has not invented a way of making diamonds, yet carborundnm is closely related to diamonds, not only in the materials of which it is composed, but in many of its physical qualities, such as hardness and beauty of appearance. In the autumn of 1884 Mr. Acheson married Margaret Maher of Brooklyn, N. Y., and they have four sons and three daughters.

Extracted from Landmarks of Niagara County, New York

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