In 1846, while still a boy, Octave Chanute and his father moved to New York City. This month long steamship voyage, (along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers through the state owned Canal-Railroad System across Pennsylvania to New York), left a lasting impression on the youngster. He was fascinated with modern technology and engineering.

While Joseph Chanut was engaged in literary pursuits, the young Chanute received his education in a New York boarding school. Engineers earned their “C.E.” (Civil Engineer) in the field, so in 1848 the teenager applied for a job with the Hudson River Railroad. When his application was turned down, he offered to work for free. A few weeks later he was hired as a Chainman, the lowest paid position at the railroad.

Later, Chanute had a long and distinguished career as a civil engineer in the transportation field. He worked for many of the major railroad companies, always looking to improve systems, always generating fresh ideas.

Hudson River Railroad

From the Report of the Hudson River Railroad by John J. Jervis, Poughkeepsie, 1846.

Several pencil-like instruments in a felt case.
19th century drafting set similar to the one used by Octave Chanute

On display courtesy of Simine Short.

A small metal stopwatch-type instrument.
19th century surveyor’s tool used to measure distances on a map.jpg

On display courtesy of Simine Short.