Transportation History

March 8, 1887

James Buchanan Eads, an internationally renowned inventor and civil engineer, died at the age of 66 while vacationing in the Bahamas. Eads had been born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, in 1820. He was named after his mother’s cousin James Buchanan, who was a U.S. congressman at the time and would go on to become the 15th president.

Eads attended school until he was 13, and then entered the world of work to help support his family. One of his first jobs was at a dry-goods store. His employer there was somebody named Barrett Williams, who allowed the teenager to spend time reading books in his personal library above the store. Eads immersed himself in books dealing with such subjects as physical science and civil engineering.

Eads subsequently made his fortune thanks to a diving bell that he created for use in retrieving goods that had ended up at…

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