Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Northern Pacific Civil Engineer Clarence White

From “An Illustrated History of the State of Washington”, by Rev. H.K. Hines, D.D., The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago, IL., 1893

CLARENCE L. WHITE, civil engineer of Seattle, was born in Littleton, Buchanan county, Iowa, November 27, 1856. His parents, H. J. and Elizabeth (Richmond)White, were natives of Canada, where Mr. White learned the trade of millwright, and upon coming to Littleton about 1854, among the pioneer settlers of that locality, he built a flouring mill, which he operated a number of years.

Clarence L. attended the public schools of Littleton and worked in his father's mill up to 1872, when the entire family came to Seattle, arriving on the 2d day of September. Spending the first winter in Seattle, our subject attended the public schools, and in the following summer went with the family to a ranch near what is now Anacortes, and then worked at clearing up and improving the ranch until the summer of 1876, when subject began "rustling" for himself, attending the Territorial University at Seattle during the winters.

In the spring of 1879 he went to Spokane Falls as editor and manager of the Spokane Times, the first newspaper started in that city. His health failing from the sedentary work, he was obliged to resign within the following summer, and then went on a Government survey in the Grand Coulee country.

With restored health he returned to Spokane Falls in November, 1880, and during the winter was employed as Deputy Auditor of Spokane County, under Mr. J.M. Nosier. During the summer and autumn of 1881 Mr. White was in the Northern Pacific survey party in Idaho and Western Montana, acting as chainman and leveler. About Christmas of that year he returned to Seattle and began working for Whitworth & Thomson, civil engineers, and continued with them, except during the winter of 1882-83, when he took a course in surveying in the university.

In January, 1887, Mr. White went out in a party on the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad, as transitman, working during the summer and following winter on preliminary and location, from Seattle to the summit of Snoqualmie Pass in Cascade Mountains.

In the spring he was transferred to the Spokane Falls division of the same road, doing work in Spokane and westward to the Columbia River. In July he was sent out as resident engineer in charge of work at crossing of Grand Coulee, 120 miles westward of Spokane Falls, at a point where the Seattle, Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad and the Northern Pacific Railroad were fighting for location. This work was abandoned, soon after the troublesome point was settled in favor of the Seattle road, and Mr. White returned to Spokane and had charge of the construction of the large railroad trestles near Spokane.

Upon the completion of this work he returned to Seattle, and in the spring of 1889 became partner in the firm of H.H. Thomson & Co. In March, 1890, the firm name was changed to Thomson & White, which continued until Mr. Thomson became City Engineer, and thereafter Mr. White operated alone.

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