WORRALL, James
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Worrall, James, is a native of Limerick, Ireland, the son of John Worrall, of that city, merchant, who failed in business in consequence of some decree of the first Napoleon. He had cargoes of provisions on the ocean, and when the continental ports were closed against them they had to be sacrificed or rot in the ships, a fate which bankrupted their owner. He then emigrated to this country, and being a man of education, he began teaching, in which occupation he successfully continued until his death, at Philadelphia, in 1845. He left a large family, of whom James was the eldest. The latter entered the establishment of Carey, Lea & Co., booksellers, where he remained several years, when he secured a position on an engineer corps under Judge F.W. Rawle. The first rod Mr. Worrall ever held was on a railroad in Northumberland county in 1831, and strange to say, the road was only commenced to be built in 1882, more than half a century later than its preliminary survey. He continued with Judge Rawle into 1832. In 1833, under Judge Benjamin Wright, one of the engineers of the Erie canal, he assisted in making the surveys and maps of the great St. Lawrence canal, between Prescott and Cornwall. He then joined the engineer corps on the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, where he remained for two years. In the fall of 1835 he helped Colonel Schlatter on a survey across New Jersey for a railroad from Trenton to New Brunswick, which, through the opposition of the Camden and Amboy railroad, was never built. Mr. Worrall then took service on the James river and Kanawha canal, under Judge Wright, consulting engineer, and Charles Ellet, Jr., constructing engineer. He was subsequently called back to Pennsylvania by Hother Hage to make a survey over the Alleghany mountains on a line from the Cumberland Valley to Pittsburgh. He was given the division from Bedford across the mountains as far as the Laurel Hill, a reconnaissance from thence to Greensburg, and again a survey from the latter point to the Youghiougheny at the mouth of the Sewickly. This was in 1828, and here Mr. Worrall first showed his skill and judgment, but the fact of their existence was not to be discovered until some forty-five years afterwards, when the highest engineering ability of the year 1882 was called upon for an opinion on the location then made; they unanimously pronounced it the true location for the road, the south Pennsylvania, and adopted it without hesitation. There was some difficult engineering suggested by Colonel Worrall east of Bedford upon which the syndicate of engineers was called upon to pronounce, which also they unanimously approved. It is questionable whether it would not have been hard to find, in the early history of engineering, an engineer, who, locating a road upon a single examination, so marked it as that the improved science of forty years later adopted it as the best without hesitation. He was afterwards engaged with Milnor Roberts as principal assistant engineer in the Erie extension of the Pennsylvania canal; in 1844 he became interested with others in canal and railroad contracts in the United States and Canada. In 1850 he was chief engineer of the Union canal, where he continued until the completion of its enlargement, when he became principal engineer on the western division of the Philadelphia and Erie railroad. Upon the completion of this work he returned to Harrisburg. After the year 1861 he acted as clerk in the quartermaster’s department during the war. At the close of the Rebellion he was again engineering across the State for projected routes to the West; afterwards on a canal survey in Illinois, returning to Pennsylvania in 1869, since which period he has been prominently identified with the fishery commission of the State, and to him much that has been accomplished in that direction is due.