Biographical / Historical
Samuel Morse Felton (1809 1889), civil engineer, became Superintendent and engineer of the Fitchburg Railroad in 1843 and left in 1851 to become President of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (PWBRR). Under Felton's able management this unsuccessful and financially failing railroad was rebuilt, restored and prospered. The road was of great strategic importance during the Civil War and performed a great service by transporting troops and supplies for the Union. In 1857, he installed the locomotive engine "Daniel Webster" in service on the PWBRR. It was probably the first really successful coal burning passenger engine in regular service upon any RR in the U.S. In 1865 he left the PWBRR to become President of the Pennsylvania Steel Company. This was the first attempt in the United States to manufacture steel rails as a commercial enterprise. During this period he also served as director of many railroads including the Philadelphia, Wilmington & BRR, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., the Northern Pacific, the Ogdensburg & Lake Champlain and several others. He was director for ten years of the Pennsylvania RR. In 1869 he was appointed by President Grant as a Commissioner to inspect Pacific Railroads.
His son, Samuel Morse Felton (1853 1930), followed in this father's footsteps. He graduated from MIT in 1873 and began a life long career in American railroading. In 1889 he became President of the Chicago and Alton Railroad, later assumed the Presidency of the Mexican Central Railroad, and became President of the Chicago Great Western Railroad in 1909. During WWI he was appointed Director General of Military Railways and in that capacity had charge of the organization and dispatch to France of all American railway forces and supplies. He continued in that position during the World War years. By 1928 he was Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Great Western Railroad, President of the Western Railroad Association, and Chairman of the Western Association of Railway Executives, to name only a few of his positions. At his death he was an advisor and associate of the Central Trust Company of Illinois.